Sonia, Meira and now Sushma: woman power in Lok Sabha

Has women's era begun in the Lok Sabha?

With Sushma Swaraj becoming the Leader of the Opposition, three of the top slots have gone to women leaders for the first time in Parliament.

Meira Kumar is the Speaker, the first woman leader to adorn the high office while Sonia Gandhi is the Chairperson of Congress Parliamentary Party.

Incidentally, the current Lok Sabha has the highest number of women members -- 59 -- since Independence. Of them, 23 belong to Congress followed by 13 of the BJP. There are four woman members each from the Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party and the BSP.

Sonia Gandhi was the first woman to become the Leader of the Opposition in 1999. Interestingly at that time, she defeated Swaraj in the Bellary constituency of Karnataka for her maiden entry to the Lok Sabha.

Swaraj's elevation to the top job could lead to greater coordination in the opposition ranks given the fact that she had a good rapport with leaders like Lalu Prasad and Mulayam Singh Yadav, having been earlier with the Janata Party.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal is Swaraj's college-mate and she enjoys a good equation with Mukherjee.

A former Delhi Chief Minister and Union Minister, Swaraj hails from Haryana and has been elected from Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh.

Meira Kumar has been elected from Sasaram in Bihar, a constituency once held by her late father and Deputy Prime Minister Jagjivan Ram.

Another woman leader of consequence in the House is Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee. Trinamool Congress is the second largest party in the ruling alliance having displaced the RJD which is out of the UPA and down to four members from 27 in the last Lok Sabha.

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