Didi and Amma: They defy patriarchy, inspire both awe and fear

By: Maitreyee Boruah
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Chennai, May 20: How many times, in a male-dominated political battleground in India, we see women fighting and winning elections on their own? Hardly.

However, AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa and TMC leader Mamata Banerjee are two women politicians, who have repeatedly shown us what it takes to win tough election contests. Both Jayalalithaa and Mamata are all set to don the throne of Tamil Nadu and West Bengal respectively for the second time in a row.


If Mamata is known as Didi (big sister), Jayalalithaa is Amma (mother) for her loyalists. They have their own trademark style of functioning. On one hand, Mamata has always maintained a Spartan way of life, even after becoming the chief minister of the eastern state in 2011.

Amma, on the other hand, whose lavish lifestyle is something her supporters are proud about their leader. The 68-year-old AIADMK supremo, a popular yesteryear Tamil actor, started her political career under the guidance of her mentor and former chief minister of Tamil Nadu MG Ramachandran.

Mamata, 61, whose political inning started with the Congress, quit the party to float her own party, the All India Trinamool Congress in 1997.

Separated by miles away, both these powerful women politicians, bucked anti-incumbency to emerge triumphant. The last time a ruling party in Tamil Nadu returned to power was in 1984. In West Bengal, Trinamool Congress led by Didi swept the polls by winning 211 out of 294 seats.

We saw how their party workers and loyalists broke into celebration when assembly election results of the four states and one union territory were declared on Thursday. Along with commanding great awe, these two ladies also inspire fear in the minds of people they rule. Like this tweet by academician and writer Madhu Kishwar suggests.

"Mamta &Jayalalitha deserve serious study-what enables these 2 women to strike such fear & awe, command fierce loyalty in respective states," wrote Kishwar, in her micro-blogging page.

Probably in the days to come, we would see one of the country's leading educational institutions conducting research behind the success of Jayalalithaa and Mamata.

There are a lot of similarities between both Mamata and Jayalalithaa. Both these women politicos are supreme leaders in their respective parties. They are the sole-decision makers in their parties and rest of their party members simply follows their diktats, without any question. Similarly, both have their share of controversies. While both have serious corruption allegations against them and their party people, but these two women have always succeeded in overpowering all opposition.

After yesterday's victory, both are already seen as formidable forces who are prospective prime ministerial candidates in the days to come.

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