New Delhi: You can take families out of India but you can never take India out of families.
In truly gender neutral assembly elections in five states of India, the 'family' factor once again established itself firmly as four women, affectionately referred to as behenji (sister), amma (mother), aunty and didi (elder sister) are set to rule some of India’s most populous states.
With Mamata Banerjee and J Jayalalithaa set to capture power in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu respectively, India could for the first time boast of four women Chief Ministers.
Shiela Dikshit of Delhi has the distinction of the longest serving woman Chief Minister in post-independent India having been at the helm of affairs for the past 12 years.
BSP supremo Mayawati has singlehandedly secured power in the largest state of Uttar Pradesh four years back and her victory at that time was seen as a defining moment in Indian politics. The politically crucial state is going to polls next year.
Mamata has in fact emerged as the 'giant killer' for ending the 34-year-old Left front rule in West Bengal on the single plank of doing away with the 'misrule' of Marxists.
It was a 'Mamata wave' that swept away the Left rule in West Bengal as the Trinamool Congress leader, who floated the party over a decade back after parting ways with Congress, showed that she alone was the staunch opponent of the CPI(M).
Jayalalithaa was out in the cold for the last five years in Tamil Nadu as also at the Centre, had her sweet revenge on Karunanidhi's DMK despite setbacks in the last two Lok Sabha polls and would be ruling the state for the next five years.
Jayalalithaa's single point campaign plank was to end the "family rule" of the DMK in the backdrop of the 2G spectrum allocation scam.
Incidentally, Sucheta Kripalani of the Congress was the first woman Chief Minister of independent India having been at the helm of affairs in Uttar Pradesh in the early sixties.
Nandini Satpathy of the Congress was the Chief Minister of Orissa in early seventies while Shashikala Kakodkar of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party was Chief Minister of the then Union territory of Goa for most part of the seventies.
Congress' Anwara Taimur was in the top executive post of Assam for a year in early eighties while the tenure of the late Janaki Ramachandran, wife of the Late M G Ramachandran, was the shortest. She was Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for less than a month in 1988.
Mayawati has been thrice Chief Minister of UP from the nineties onwards but at that time her BSP was in alliance-once with the Samajwadi Party and twice with the BJP.
Sushma Swaraj was Delhi Chief Minister for four months as the BJP had unsuccessfully tried to remove the anti-incumbency by bringing her in place of the late Sahib Singh Verma ahead of the Assembly elections.
Since those elections in 1998, Dikshit is holding forte in Delhi.
Rajinder Kaur Bhattal of the Congress was the Punjab Chief Minister for a year in the mid-nineties while Uma Bharati had also a short tenure in Madhya Pradesh after leading the BJP in the Assembly elections of 2003.
Jail for husband Lalu Prasad in the mid nineties in the fodder scam saw housewife Rabri Devi suddenly pitchforked to the Chief Ministership for several years till the RJD lost power in the Assembly elections some six years back.
Vasundhara Raje of BJP became the first woman Chief Minister of Rajasthan in 2003 ousting the Congress led by Ashok Gehlot.
Recent years have in fact proved a boon to women leaders. Pratibha Patil boasts of being the fist woman President and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi has created a record of the longest tenure of 12 long years as Congress President in the
125 year history of the organisation.
Meira Kumar is the first woman Lok Sabha Speaker while Sushma Swaraj has completed a year as the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha.