When the choice is lady or Modi, the former wins
History seems to have a way of repeating itself, as far as the political fate of BJP is concerned
History seems to have a way of repeating itself, as far as the political fate of BJP is concerned. The recently held, high-octane polls in West Bengal which saw Didi triumphing over the combined assault of Modi- Shah and retaining the CM slot for the third time in a row is just the latest example. For over two decades, the Tamil Nadu supremo Jayalalithaa had given a taste of what it means to deal with her brand of politics to the saffronites.
The tallest leader in BJP, A B Vajpayee himself bore the brunt of her power antics in 1998-99 when his government fell as her party withdrew support to it. Later, despite Narendra Modi being on her right side throughout his term as Gujarat CM and later as the PM, she never succumbed to his party's pressure tactics of alliances and seat sharing formulae till she was alive, five years ago.
During the 1990s, there were more tales of political jolts. The state unit of BJP under the leadership of Kalyan Singh can never forget the humiliation heaped on them by Mayawati, described as a 'miracle of democracy' by the then PM, P V Narasimha Rao. In 1997, dishonouring a power-sharing deal, she had walked away after serving her term, withdrawing support to BJP, which had to indulge in naked power games by splitting the Congress to stay in power.
To continue the list of losing battles of BJP with wily lady politicians, the saffron party had yet another brush with 'stree shakti', when it was dethroned from the Delhi Assembly in 1998. Sheila Dikshit, the Congress politician who replaced the BJP went on to stay as the CM of Delhi till 2013, a record period of 15 years, unbroken till date by a female neta. Of course, Mamata would attain the distinction when she completes her present term in 2026.
This is a trend which will continue to bug the BJP as more women are gearing up to enter Assemblies and the Parliament, as and when the 50 per cent reservation for women becomes a reality. It is not as if the party's approach is misogynistic as it had the late Sushma Swaraj as one of its leading lights till her unfortunate demise, two years ago.
In the present scheme of things, the Smriti Iranis and Nirmala Sitharamans are shining examples of peaceful coexistence the male-heavy establishment of BJP has with the female leaders. During the recent polls in five states, there were many lady socialites and cinema heroines who had joined the party in Bengal and Tamil Nadu, campaigning ferociously and also making a mark here and there. The best example would be Vanathi Sreenivasan humbling Kamal Haasan in a tight contest. Still, this inexplicable outcome of coming a cropper before the power women leaders of other parties, who seem to have a great run against the BJP is a classic case study on its own.