Voices of Opposition: Meet India’s New Generation of Women Politicians

Not everybody has it in them to be a politician: that is, have a selfless willing to serve and own it with their action. It is, as they say, the road less travelled by. And women have to beat their path, both on ground and virtual world as well.

Statistically, one in every seven tweets that mentioned any women politicians from India were abusive in nature, as found by Amnesty International. Such unhealthy engagements including rape and death threats are obvious hurdles for those aspiring to lead communities.

However, in front of true passion and commitment, the most powerful of such negativities are mere distractions. Whether it is in the ruling party or in Opposition, Indian democracy has always had a strong bunch of women who do not mince their words. 

Following the likes of Indira Gandhi and Sushama Swaraj, a new generation of women have arrived and they are not afraid to raise their voice for the voiceless. MAKERS India takes a look at six women in India’s political opposition who are upholding values of the democracy. 

Kavita Krishnan (Photo by Samir Jana/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Kavita Krishnan

Kavita Krishnan was politically active since she was a post graduate student at Jawaharlal Nehru University, where she was the Joint Secretary of Student’s Union in 1995 and a member of All India Students Association. Born in Tamil Nadu, Kavita grew up in Bhilai, Chhattisgarh, and holds MPhil in English literature from JNU. 

Kavita has been a prominent voice for women’s safety in her roles as an activist and a politician. She was influential in leading the protests after the infamous Nirbhaya rape case. 

Now 47, Kavita is a member of the Communist Party of India Marxist-Leninist (CPI-ML), and is in charge of the party’s monthly publication, Liberation. Kavita also sits as the secretary of All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA). 

Mahua Moitra (Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Mahua Moitra

Member of Parliament Mahua Moitra won a seat in the 17th Lok Sabha from Krishnagar in West Bengal. A candidate of All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) party, the 44-year-old storms the social media sites every time she speaks at the parliament. 

She was earlier serving as a member Legislative Assembly representing Karimpur constituency from 2016 to 2019. Last year, her maiden speech at the Parliament went viral on internet, for her fiery critique of the incumbent government and the falling economy. 

Mahua has also served as the general secretary and national spokesperson of the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC).  An economics and mathematics graduate from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, Mahua was an investment banker at JPMorgan Chase in New York City and London before joining politics in 2009.

Initially associated with Indian National Congress party, she moved to the All India Trinamool Congress party in 2010.

Supriya Sule (Photo by Vipin Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Supriya Sule

A member of the Nationalist Congress Party, Supriya Sule is a sitting MP from Baramati in Maharashtra . 

Honoured with Mumbai Women of the Decade Achievers Award by ALL Ladies League, Supriya is known for social work. A persistent fighter for women empowerment, she launched a nationwide campaign against female foeticide in 2011.The following year, she founded Rashtravadi Yuvati Congress, a platform to help young girls who aspire to become politicians. 

After completing bachelors in Microbiology at Jai Hind College in Mumbai, Supriya entered politics when she won a seat at the Rajya Sabha in 2006. 

More recently, the 50-year-old is raising concerns on how Indian armies stationed in the border areas of Siachen, Ladakh, and Doklam are not provided with basic necessities like food and clothing. 

Alka Lamba

After breaking her 20-year strong tie with the Indian National Congress (INC), Alka joined the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in December 2014 and was elected as a member of legislative assembly in the following year. However, citing lack of respect within AAP and misleading the people of Delhi, she joined Congress again in 2019.

Now 45, Alka stepped into politics while she was a college student, by joining the student wing of Congress, National Students' Union of India (NSUI) in 1994 and headed the Delhi University Students' Union as President.

She has held various positions over the years since becoming a member of All India Congress Committee (AICC) in 2006 – including being the General Secretary of Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC) and the Vice Chairperson of National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development (NIPCCD), under Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India.

Nusrat Jahan

Bengali actor Nusrat Jahan donned the cap of a politician last year when she joined All India Tiramool Congress. Nusrat, 30, was a model for becoming an actor.

Backed by Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee, Nusrat contested 2019 general election from Basirhat constituency and defeated BJP candidate Sayantan Basu by a margin of 350,000 votes. She has been a constant target to online trolling, for wearing vermillion and mangalsutra, as per Hindu traditions. Nusrat was born to Muslim parents and is married to businessman Nikhil Jain. She has clarified that she will not convert just because her husband follows Hinduism.

Atishi Marlena

Politician Atishi Marlena who belongs to AAP serves as the Advisor to Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi on Education.  The 38-year-old is also a member of the Political Affairs Committee of AAP.

 Atishi is a Chevening and Rhodes scholar and studied History at the University of Oxford. 

Before joining AAP to work on policy formulation, Atishi has been involved with several non-profits including Sambhavana Institute of Public Policy. Interested in policy making and education, Atishi earlier taught at Rishi Valley School in Karnataka. 

She has also led a Mohalla Sabha (a concept where local people are given power for development) Project for the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi. However, the project was later rejected.

Atishi Marlena (Photo by Amal KS/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Jothimani Sennimalai 

Jothimani Sennimalai who belongs to the INC earned a Lok Sabha seat from the constituency of Karur, Tamil Nadu, in 2019. 

Turning to politics at the age of 22, she has been District General Secretary of Karur district congress from 1997 to 2004, Vice President of Tamil Nadu Youth Congress from 2006 to 2008, and a member of Tamil Nadu Censor Board from 2006 to 2009. 

Fluent in Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi, and English, she has represented the party on global forums like American Council for Young Political Leaders in the US and Asian Young Leader's Summit 2009 in Malaysia. In the same year, former president of INC, Rahul Gandhi, appointed her as the general secretary of Indian Youth Congress through national level talent search.

Jothimani Sennimalai (Image from Facebook page)

Having completed M. Phil from Annamalai University in Tamil Nadu, Jothimani is also a writer and has penned a collection of short stories called Ottrai Vasanai, among others.

Mimi Chakraborty

A prominent actress in Bengali cinema and television, 30-year-old Mimi is a member of the Trinamool Congress party and Lok Sabha MP from Jadavpur constituency. This English literature graduate is was also a model before turning to acting, and is widely considered one of the most popular fashion icons in West Bengal.

Mimi, along with Nusrat Jahan, has been trolled for her sartorial choices. But not one to give in to bullying, she tweeted a cheeky reply too:

Mimi has also been a vocal advocate of self-defence classes for school girls, which she believes will help build confidence in them.