| by N.S.Venkataraman
( February 20, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) India has seen many women chief ministers during the last few decades and it is now the right time to assess as to whether the women chief ministers have performed better than their men counterpart. This study is particularly required in the present juncture , since the three women chief ministers namely Jayalalitha, Mamata Banerjee and Mayawati have caught the national attention by their aggressive and confrontationist approach against the central government as well as the opposition parties in their own states.
Women have been held in high esteem traditionally in India and the country men have always been reposing greater faith in the wisdom of women and their sense of fairness. Even when mistakes are committed, the women are generally viewed with greater consideration in India, even by judiciary. Recently, when the case involving Ms. Kanimozhi was heard in the Delhi court, it was argued by her counsel that her case must be viewed by judiciary with sympathy , since she happens to be a woman and mother.
However, a careful analysis of the performance of the women chief ministers in India, both present and in the past , only indicate that they have not lived up to expectations of the average Indian. Women chief ministers like Jayalalitha and Mayawati and Shiela Dixit are facing serious corruption charges. Jayalalitha, Mayawati and Mamata Banerjee are known to be very sharp and abrasive in dealing with their political opponents and are seen as no less political schemers than the men chief ministers. In these respects, there is nothing unique about these women chief ministers.
One significant observation about the style of functioning of the women chief ministers is that they have ensured that they would be the sole leader in their political party in their states , as is evident from the fact that Jayalalitha, Mayawati and Mamata would not hesitate to put down mercilessly anyone in their party who would tend to argue their points with them, leave alone questioning their authority. To this extent, these woman chief ministers have developed an image of themselves as “dictatorial leaders” in their political parties, without any democratic approach . Their own party men have to be necessarily “sort of slaves” to their political leader and none of them are even tolerated if they would address the chief minister by her name. For example, in Tamil Nadu , none of her party men would be daring enough to address Jayalalitha by her name but have to use some “title” like “amma”. God save the party men who dare to disagree with the views or decisions of these head strong women chief ministers or address them by name.
One distinct aspect about them is their extraordinary level of self confidence and courage of conviction and that have made many people tend to comment that the “only man” in their political parties is the woman chief minister.
Apart from their own party men, even the leaders of the other political parties have found it extremely difficult to get on with them. They seem to think that the women chief ministers are not only undependable but also unpredictable, without any firm commitment to principled approach and they would not hesitate to play to the gallery, for their survival if necessary .
All said and done, the unfortunate fact is that the women chief ministers have not been able to show any extraordinary capability for administration and for initiating and implementing far reaching economic and industrial development programmes, commensurate with the overwhelming majority that they enjoy in the state assemblies.
The country would have felt proud of the women chief ministers if atleast they would have put down corruption and nepotism in their states, given their bold approach to every one of the issues confronting them. On the other hand, they themselves are facing serious charges. This is the most disappointing aspect about the women chief ministers in India.