Sheila, Maya, Jaya and Mamata. Sounds like opening lines of a soap ad jingle, the Lalitaji variety, doesn't it? But after last week's stellar performance by two women leaders in the state elections, most would be singing fulsome arias, not two-minute jingles, for them. We are talking about the iron ladies of Indian politics - Congress' Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, Uttar Pradesh CM Mayawati, and the CMs-in-waiting of Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, the AIAD-MK's J Jayalalithaa and Trinamool Congress' Mamata Bane-rjee, respectively.
Though the four have similar sounding names, they are as different from each other as chalk and cheese. While suave Ms Dikshit has a grandmotherly charm, Ms Jayalalithaa is everybody's amma. Likewise, Ms Banerjee, much younger than the previous two, is 'didi' personified. As for Ms Mayawati, she is a bit of a 'didi' but definitely not in the Mamata category; made as she of sterner stuff. Behenji is more akin to a boot camp commandant, than loving sister which Mamata with her earthy charm is. Along with their colourful personalities, the Fab Four have different styles of functioning and dressing too. While cotton sari and chappal-clad Ms Banerjee and the Fab India-draped Ms Dikshit are much more people's persons, the caped crusader Jayalalithaa and bejeweled Mayawati connect with the electorate from a distance. Either way, both systems seem to work with the electorate.
Such variety is great news for the voters. Which other country can offer such leaders who suit regional tastes too? And, going by the election results, the voters are making the most of it, as the 2011 polls proved.