NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Three powerful women politicians, each from a very different section of Indian society, may pose a big threat to the chances of Prime Minister Narendra Modi winning a second term in a general election due by May.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, part of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty that has ruled India for much of the time since its independence from the British in 1947, joined the struggle in January, when the opposition Congress party made her its face in the nation’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh.
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Two other senior female politicians – the firebrand chief minister of West Bengal state, Mamata Banerjee, and Mayawati, a former Uttar Pradesh chief minister – are also plotting to unseat Modi’s ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition by forming big opposition groupings, though there is no firm agreement between them as yet.
“The opposition has more powerful women leaders than the NDA, and therefore they will be able to carry conviction with voters generally, and with women voters, in particular,” said Yashwant Sinha, 81, a former finance minister who quit Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which dominates the NDA, last year.
Defeat - Hindi - Heartland - States - BJP
“They should be very worried, especially after the defeat in the three major Hindi heartland states,” he said, referring to BJP’s losses in recent state elections.
The entry of Priyanka – she is usually referred to by just her first name – into the political fray drew a gushing reaction from much of the Indian media.
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There were pictures of elated supporters dancing, a lot of talk of the 47-year-old’s resemblance to her grandmother, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and comments about her gifts as a speaker able to connect with voters. That contrasts with her brother, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who in the past has been criticized for lacking the common touch.
The other two...
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