Though the last two decades have seen several women becoming chief ministers, nearly all have reached the top by virtue of having a political godfather or a privileged political background. Mamata Banerjee had neither. Here’s a look at some other women who have shot to the top in state politics
Vasundhara Raje Scindia, royal leader
Chief minister of Rajasthan (Dec 2003-Dec 2008) Vasundhara’s mother, the late Vijaya Raje Scindia, initiated her into politics. Vasundhara served as cabinet minister under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, and romped home to a majority in the 2003 Rajasthan polls.
Likes to hear: “Hukum keejiye, Rani sahiba”
Doesn’t like to hear: “Shane Warne is leaving the Rajasthan Royals”
Rabri Devi, her husband’s wife
Chief minister of Bihar (July 1997- Feb 1999, March 1999-March 2000, 2000-2005) and wife of former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, she was the chief inheritor of Bihar’s problems. Having taken over the reins of Bihar when Lalu was implicated in the fodder scam, the biggest import of her political speeches was ‘support my husband’.
Likes to hear: “Lalu has decided to shave his ears”
Doesn’t like to hear: “Narsanhar aur bhrashtachar, jail se chalti thi sarkar”
J Jayalalithaa, Actress-turned neta
Chief minister of Tamil Nadu (1991-1996, 2001-2006), Jayalalithaa entered Tamil Nadu politics thanks to her close association with Tamil cinema superstar and former chief minister M.G. Ramachandran. Her administration was known for some progressive policies, like the banning of lottery tickets.
Likes to hear: “Want to go saree shopping?”
Doesn’t like to hear: “Jaya TV’s TRP’s behind Kalaignar TV”
Chief minister of Uttar Pradesh (June 1995-Oct 1995, March 1997-Sept 1997, May 2002-Sept 2003, May 2007-present) and a protégé of Dalit leader Kanshi Ram, Mayawati symbolises the aspirations of millions of Dalits. The youngest and first woman Dalit CM of UP, she has controversially channeled state funds to build statues and memorial parks dedicated to Dalit leaders.
Likes to hear: “Now that we have renamed Amethi, can Rae Bareilly be far behind?”
Doesn’t like to hear: “We have a proposal for a new Taj Corridor project”
Uma Bharti, Volatile sanyasin
Chief minister of Madhya Pradesh (Dec 2003-Aug 2004),
Bharti first caught national attention during the Ramjanmabhoomi movement. Known for her mercurial temper and fiery oratory, she showed political shrewdness by setting aside a Hindutva agenda and campaigned on a development plank, beating the suave Digvijay Singh in the 2003 MP elections. But she was forced to resign a few months later.
Likes to hear: “You are being re-inducted into the BJP”
Doesn’t like to hear: “You would look gorgeous in green!”
Sheila Dikshit, Rock star aunty
Into her third term as chief minister of Delhi (Dec 2003-present), Sheila Dikshit’s plusses include a clean-politician image and good job performance. But her image has taken a recent slide after the CWG mess and her inability to make the national capital safer for women.
Likes to hear: “Delhi Metro, flyovers, malls…”
Doesn’t like to hear: “BRT, CWG, MCD...”