08 May, 2021

Madam Pompadour’s Chessboard

The political ‘creeper couch’ is no myth. But there can be more to the game than just compromise.

Madam Pompadour’s Chessboard

Everyone knows how Noor Jahan, the twentieth wife of Mughal emperor Jahangir, used her sexual powers to virtually become one of India’s most powerful women. But post feminism, have women developed more scruples and disdain to use their charms to get ahead? Breaking the silence on a subject that’s now considered politically most incorrect, women politicians confess not much has changed in politics since Mughal times. “Everyone has to give something to get into power. Men give money and women usually give their bodies,” says Ramnika Gupta matter-of-factly. In her seventies, Ramnika is a member of the CPI(M), a tribal rights champion, former trade union leader and politician who—to use her own phrase—has “passed through the hands” of several men in her quest for political power.

Ramnika’s “initiation” into politics began with the late K.B. Sahay, when he was chief minister of Bihar. Wanting some government land for a women’s training centre, she...

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