Women have played an instrumental role in the nation-building process of India since ancient times and post-independence era; they have matched men in every step and made a mark for themselves.
In the run-up to the big 2019 elections, three women leaders could play an important role in the formation of the next government if neither the Congress nor the BJP wins an outright majority. West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) President Mayawati and Congress’s Priyanka Gandhi are seen as a big threat to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aspiration to continue his second inning.
The firebrand Mamata Banerjee, BSP supremo Mayawati, and the most recent grand entry of Priyanka Gandhi in national politics could play a big role to change the entire course of National Politics. While 2019 Lok Sabha election is very crucial for Priyanka Gandhi and Mayawati to revitalise their parties, the common agenda which these three ladies share is to keep BJP away from the central power in the upcoming elections. Mayawati and Mamata are a big threat to Modi’s grip on power; both the seasoned leaders are far more experienced than Priyanka and both are considered strong and potential prime ministerial candidates if a coalition government forms for the next five years.
BSP chief Mayawati has served as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh for four times carving a history being the first-ever Dalit woman in India to serve as the Chief Minister. Due to the low percentage of votes in the last Lok Sabha election, the BSP had ended its national party status in 2014. Mayawati-led BSP supported Congress in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan in recent elections; eyeing the 2019 elections, the party has also formed a historic alliance with the Samajwadi Party. Fearing that all the Dalits votes would go in favour of the Congress, BSP is not ready to give much space to Congress as it runs on the votes of the Muslims and the Dalits. However, even after an alliance with SP, it has displayed a soft corner for Congress keeping the possibility of joining hands with the country’s oldest political party alive.
BSP Maharashtra Secretary Dwarka Piraji Kamble asserted, “Mayawati, Mamata, and Priyanka are very powerful leaders of this country who have got the attention of the whole nation now. With kingmaker Mayawati’s strategy to join hands with Akhilesh, Uttar Pradesh is going to be the decision maker in the 2019 general election. We will make sure that Modi will never return to power again. We are hopeful that Mayawati will become the next Prime Minister of India.”
Priyanka Gandhi’s sudden appointment as the All India Congress Committee (AICC) General Secretary for eastern Uttar Pradesh, soon after the SP-BSP alliance, has sent cold shivers among both party leaders. Priyanka is seen as the sure ace for Congress. The eastern part of Uttar Pradesh includes all VIP parliamentary constituencies including Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency Varanasi and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s home turf Gorakhpur, besides Congress stronghold Rae Bareli and Lucknow. Priyanka Gandhi is also presumed to contest Lok Sabha elections from UP. Priyanka will be focusing to woo upper caste voters in the state who typically vote for BJP and also the Muslims which have been a traditional vote bank of Congress.
In West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress of Mamata Banerjee holds a majority; although, BJP president Amit Shah claims that they’re going to win in big numbers in the next elections. Whereas, political observers don’t see Mamata Banerjee’s popularity diminishing; Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC) had on January 19 organised a mega opposition rally which was attended by leaders of 24 parties from across the country, including the Congress; Banerjee projected herself as the primary challenger to Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
TMC leader Dr. Ratna De stated, “The recently held grand Opposition rally by Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal clearly showed that the 2019 election is not going to be a cakewalk for BJP. TMC and other party members want Mamata to become the next Prime Minister of India. All female members who are into opposition have decided to dethrone Narendra Modi.”
Mamata Banerjee has been very vocal against the demonetisation, hurried implementation of GST, and National Register of Citizenship (NRC) in Assam. These are the issues which she will project against the BJP. TMC gears up for ‘2019 BJP will finish’ agenda.
Narendra Modi on the other hand would target women welfare to ensure his victory. Modi will probably be campaigning to revive the Women’s Reservation Bill, which has been pending for close to two decades due to lack of consensus among political parties. Moreover, BJP will be running a month-long exercise titled Bharat Ke Mann Ki Baat, Modi Ke Saath. The BJP launched a special website and phone number to seek suggestions. The party will also set up 7,500 boxes to collect ideas. BJP has decided to seek suggestions under 12 special categories like good governance, women empowerment, youth and sports, inclusive growth, farmers, economy, foreign policy, and infrastructure.
BJP MP from Gujarat Ranjanben Dhananjay Bhatt spoke to AV and said, “All these three ladies have totally different backgrounds. Countless crimes happened and are happening in West Bengal under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee. Priyanka Gandhi belongs to dynastic politics and she has done nothing for the nation and she is not a competitor to BJP in any manner.”
“As far as Mayawati is concerned, she has been the CM of UP but she did nothing for the state and its people; she joined hands with Akhilesh to manage the survival of her political career,” she added.
Mamata, Mayawati, Priyanka — all the three women leaders have faced male sexist digs so far. Currently, sexist attacks targeting Mayawati and Priyanka have been in trend on social media. BSP supremo Mayawati has been the target of some extremely distasteful comments. She was heavily mocked for her looks and shoddy lifestyle whereas Priyanka Gandhi is targeted on social media as Surpanakha while also being targeted for her good looks. Mamata too was targeted in her own state as ‘a prostitute’. Subramanian Swamy said, “Priyanka Gandhi had bipolar disorder and a violent character” while BJP MLA Sadhana called Mayawati “worse than a transgender”.
AIMC General Secretary Shamina Shafiq expressed, “Not only powerful women like Mayawati, Mamata, and Priyanka, but even ordinary women can challenge Modi, his policies, and his leadership. Youth are hurt being jobless; all castes, religions and every single woman of this country are unhappy, disturbed, and angry under the leadership of PM Modi.
Modi has endorsed people who humiliate and misbehave with women and have a rigid perspective towards women, be it the BJP MLA from Kanpur who raped a girl or be it Priyanka Gandhi, who was humiliated by the BJP leaders when she entered into active politics, just because she is a woman!”
“I think no one can save this government from being thrown out of the power. BJP has damaged the whole nation in some or the other way,” she concluded.