Amma, Didi, Behenji: India’s female kingmakers

PONDICHERRY, April 2, 2014 (AFP) – The makeup of India’s next government could lie in the hands of a trio of women who command a massive following in their regional heartlands, including a populist former movie star known as “Mother” to supporters. “Definitely their image, their fighting spirit, their charisma, and their administrative skills to a great extent, have left them in good stead across the board when it comes to voting.”

Subhash Agrawal, a Delhi-based analyst, said Modi will have to reach out to them with even the most generous projections putting the BJP several dozen seats short of a majority in the 543-seat parliament.

“Where are the remaining 40 or 50 seats going to come from?” said Agrawal.

Jayalalithaa has made no secret of her own interest in being prime minister.

Although such a scenario is seen as unlikely, the former actress could still make a decisive intervention on the national stage in return for senior cabinet posts or legislation that will benefit her core.

“She’s probably got the most friendly disposition towards the BJP and Modi,” Agrawal said. “Jayalalithaa could be very instrumental.” Known more for their charisma than policies, Jayalalithaa Jayaram, Mamata Banerjee and Mayawati are likely to