28 February, 2021

Being Mrs Sinha

An unfair ‘by association’ barb and its implications

Jayant Sinha with his wife Punita
Photograph by Vishal Kaul
Being Mrs Sinha

After the recent cabinet shuffle, media reports ost­ensibly explaining Jayant Sinha’s departure as minister of state for finance surreptitiously introduced the wife angle. Whilst one woman (Smriti Ir­a­ni)­ was battling reports and speculative pieces on her change of charge, another (Mrs Jayant Sinha, or Pun­ita Kumar-Sinha, to give her full name) was int­roduced into the narrative. In an interview in April 2014, before Narendra Modi became prime minister, Jayant had clarified that he and his wife had their own separate professional accomplishments that led to their seats on the boards of various companies. The time is relevant: at the time of the interview, the BJP had neither won the election, nor was he a minister. It was an egalitarian statement: a man ack­no­w­ledging his wife’s professional competence. After the May 16, 2014 victory, the clock started ticking; the knives were drawn and during the recent cabinet reshuffle—he was moved from the finance ministry and made MoS for civil aviation, seen by some as a...

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