The object of this study is to explore specific identity-formations that have occurred under specific cultural and socio-political contexts that have enabled women politicians in India to acquire political power. The paper will examine Indira Gandhi, Mayawati, Mamta Banerjee, and Jayalalithaa, and try to understand what led to the personalization of power in all four cases. The idea is to analyze the relationship between particular identities that these figures have acquired in popular discourse and particular modalities of power. What do the invocation of mother or sister figures signify? How does it influence/shape with their gender identities? How do their gender identities, in turn, shape their politics and the policies that are designed by their regimes? This, in turn, leads us to enquire how women politicians in general and these four in particular, have negotiated with the existing power structures in a male-dominated, patriarchal political system. This is inextricably linked to questions of masculine and feminine identities, specifically the mother and sister rhetoric. For instance, insofar as they are perceived as masculine, how do they fit with the figure of the mother of sister, who is considered feminine? We are also interested, in this regard, to analyze the role played by their male mentors (Nehru, MGR, Kanshiram) and how it helped in mobilizing certain discourses. Given that the rise of many of these female politicians has coincided with the strengthening of regional political parties, including to some extent Indira Gandhi, it will be interesting to look at how the two processes influence one another. .
Mediation of Reality, Creation of Identity and the Reality of Power.
From the massive billboards to countless fliers, every possible inch on any commodity packaged for daily consumption is shaped into spaces where identities are created and recreated.