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Three formidable women hoping to upset Modi

April 07, 2019 00:00:00

NEW DELHI, Apr 06 (AFP): India's alpha-male Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces three formidable women looking to spoil his chances of winning a new term in elections beginning next week.

Feisty and fiery Mamata Banerjee is the first female chief minister of the eastern state of West Bengal-home to more people than Germany-where Modi's right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) needs to do well.

The diminutive 64-year-old is one of Modi's most vociferous critics and has been working to cobble together an anti-Modi alliance.

"We can tell you one thing, that we are all together against the BJP government to save the nation," she says.

Banerjee, whose Trinamool Congress party rules the roost in West Bengal, has succeeded in keeping the BJP at bay so far despite the growing popularity of Modi.

The former national railways minister known as "didi", or big sister, enjoys a mass following not least because of her humble upbringing and lowbrow style.

"Banerjee is a very important leader. She is a struggler and a fighter to the core,"

Manisha Priyam, a Delhi-based political analyst, said.

"If she does well in the state, she will be an important player in the formation of a government."

Known as the "Dalit Queen", Mayawati, 63, has had a colourful career as champion of lower caste Dalits. She wields considerable influence in 200-million-strong Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state and the election's biggest prize.

The youngest scion of the famed Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra entered the family business of politics in January after years of steering clear-and has made a splash.

And what could be a better battleground for the charismatic younger sister of PM-hopeful Rahul Gandhi than Uttar Pradesh-the Hindu heartland where Modi has his core support base.

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