CHURUMURI POLL: Do we like our ‘icons’ single?

“The victory of Jayalalitha and Mamata Banerjee means that India has three chief ministers who are women. They are single, they don’t have children and they are routinely represented in India’s print and electronic media as temperamental viragos. This tells us something about both the unselfconscious misogyny of our journalism and the toll that Indian politics takes of women who want to exercise power in their own right.”

Thus writes the academic Mukul Kesavan in the Hindustan Times on the morning after the Mysore-born AIADMK leader ended 44 years of political dominance of Muthuvel Karunanidhi, and the hawaii chappal-wearing Banerjee ended 34 years of Left rule. (Uttar Pradesh CM Mayawati is the third woman Kesavan has in his mind’s eye.)

Leaving aside the sex woman part of Kesavan’s observation, the perception of Jaya and Mamata as “change agents” raises an interesting question. Which is, why do we prefer our leaders to be single?

Look at the panoply of people the media has happily elevated to the status of “icons” in recent times: former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, single; former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, single; Gujarat chief minister Narendra Damodardas Modi, single (well, almost); Anna Hazare, who sat on a fast unto death recently, single; Medha Patkar, social activist, single, and so on. Obviously, not all of them are in the same league and not all of them are full of virtues (wink, wink).

Still, does being “single” put a leader on the fasttrack to sainthood in the eyes of the people? Is a bachelor or spinster seen to be less burdened by the demands of family for time and attention? Does an unattached leader appeal to our sense of sacrifice, an expectation that she might turn out to be less corrupt? Is that a single person has better focus to make it to the top?

Or is it just a silly accident of history of which we are making too much?

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12 Responses to “CHURUMURI POLL: Do we like our ‘icons’ single?”

  1. Deepak Says:

    Well, Jaya and Maya are single only in status, unlike Mamta who is genuinely single :)

    And what’s the meaning of the tag for Modi. Looks like you can never write anything, without taking a dig at Modi.

  2. the colonel Says:

    and the mahatama was single too

  3. madan Says:

    In Indian elections, its not the gender of the winner/loser that matters but the person on the currency note that is “tendered” to the potential voter.

    Moreover the so-called preference for a candidate’s “singleness” is nothing but the disgust & loathing of the general public towards dynastic politics.

  4. harkol Says:

    In a highly nepotistic politics, it isn’t a surprise that voters find a virtue in a leader who is single.

    Hey may still be corrupt, but he won’t leave behind an ‘yuvraj’…


    Who ‘mahatama’ ?

  5. vikram Says:

    and great vikram is single too…. i must consider politics as a career :)
    churumuri be my mouthpiece… and colonel be my general. of course i want dictatorship. so he will crush all oppositions for me :-)
    until that day try to feel my wrath. come on you need some practice beforehand.

  6. srivaid Says:

    You could probably read it the other way around too…
    Being single they could make some sacrifices to get to the top which others wouldn’t be able to. And yes, not having a family also means that they could work harder in their chosen professions… (Am avoiding just ‘politics’, since you included APJ, a scientist, in the list)

  7. the colonel Says:

    Hi harkol: thats not yuvraj but “papu”

    hi vikram: col is best. no gen.

    and 10 ministers in the centre for 35 seats in the assy. wow, this is some ball scratchin’.

  8. parijataka Says:

    Why have you left out heir apparent and PM in waiting Rahul Gandhi ji, probably the most eminent bachelor in the country ?

  9. Natasha Says:

    This is a waste of a post on Churumuri. It’s a non-issue.

    But well, if such ‘sexy’ theories don’t come from a website that often posts sizzling pictures (I am sure our great Bangalore-based ‘journalists’ drool over them, age no bar) under the header ‘commodification of women’, then who else would come up with such a narrow-minded post?

    Arundhati Roy was right: Journalists in Kerala only like to stare at her boobs during a press conference.

    I suspect this habit is widespread on Karnataka too.

  10. 'mudi'malnad Says:

    Though they are single, they have FOSTER son(s) and son(s)in law, that is enough to spoil the show. Mamatha didi’s foster one will show up soon, or she is a godmother to someone already(since May 13th)!
    Anyway when it comes to corruption, JJ is not better than MK. In five years a stage will be set by JJ for Stalin/Kani/may be A raja to be TN’s next CM!
    In Beantown, they(journos) spend more time in night clubs than press conferences!

  11. dinesh Pandian Says:

    Actually we voted for more freebies promised by Jayalaitha..

  12. Abhi Says:

    Jaya won because she offered to give a grinder on top of a mixer while MK offered only the mixer. Its that simple.

    You can choose to bring 2G scam, single, women power, people’s rejection of corruption and other 1000 things into picture to make you happy.

    This is the best we can do folks. Be happy with what you have got.

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