Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Power & Politics

Two of India's most powerful women are at war - with each other.

"The dispute escalated yesterday when Kumari Mayawati, leader of the Untouchables caste and chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, barred Mrs Gandhi from addressing a meeting in her own parliamentary electorate.

Deep-seated political rivalry between Mrs Gandhi, 61, and Ms Mayawati, 52, has burst into open political warfare over a $556 million railway carriage factory that Mrs Gandhi wants for her electorate in the northern state, one of India's poorest and most populous.

While Mrs Gandhi leads the dominant Congress party, it is Ms Mayawati, as leader of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), who is in the ascendancy. Ms Mayawati could win enough seats to hold the balance of power following the national elections, due by May next year, and if she does is believed likely to demand the prime ministership.

Most analysts view the stoush over the project as the beginning of a fight to the finish between the two powerful women - one the custodian of India's Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, the other born an Untouchable, but who has developed wealthy tastes, especially for gemstone-encrusted jewellery, and is now said to be worth in excess of $17 million."

Source: The Australian

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