With the doughty Mamata Banerjee and J. Jayalalithaa set to take over the reins in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, respectively, their victory Friday was seen by many as a reassertion of faith in the leadership of women.
With them, India will have four women chief ministers ruling at the same time, the other two being Sheila Dikshit in Delhi and Mayawati in Uttar Pradesh.
“From the verdicts in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, people have sent out the message that they have reposed their faith in women’s leadership. The other important message that they have sent out is they expect better governance and better services from them,” Ranjana Kumari, chairperson of the Centre for Social Research (CSR), told IANS.
Yasmeen Amin, an activist who works on women and development related issues, said the people’s verdict puts a huge responsibility on the shoulders of the two newly-elected women leaders.
“Mamata and Jayalalithaa have always been leaders, but now people have actually given them the chance to lead. This is a huge responsibility on them to deliver good services with a gender perspective,” Amin said.
While Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress-led alliance won in West Bengal, defeating the Left Front that had ruled the state for 34 years, Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK-led front gave a big blow to the ruling DMK-led coalition in Tamil Nadu.
Ranjana Kumari further said this win will change the political scenario of the country.
“With these two women leaders, the political scenario in the country will change. Also, it shows the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) the need to introduce the women’s reservation bill soon,” she said.
Jaya Sharma, a student of Delhi University, said: “I think this verdict will encourage more women to come into politics and change things for the better.”
“Also, this verdict shows that people really want a change and have faith in women leaders to do that. The fact that a huge number of supporters of Mamata Banerjee are youngsters and women shows that they have voted for her in the hope of better services and better governance,” she said.
Mamata Banerjee will become the 14th woman chief minister that India has had since independence.