The Great Debate (India)

from India Insight:

Women wield power in election wrangling

With the wrangling for allies in earnest ahead of election results due Saturday, women leaders hold an inordinate amount of power in deciding who will form the new Indian government.

Women leaders have always had a role in the rough and tumble of Indian politics, from Sarojini Naidu and Annie Besant in the independence struggle to Indira Gandhi, the second woman in the world to become prime minister.

Women leaders are perhaps at the peak of their influence now, with Gandhi's political heir regarded the most powerful of them all -- indeed, the most powerful political leader in the country.

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi is credited with energising the party and leading it to a surprising victory in the 2004 election, and she looks to have the lead this time around too, according to exit polls.