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The politics-kinship nexus in India: Sonia Gandhi versus Sushma Swaraj in the 1999 general elections

Title:The politics-kinship nexus in India: Sonia Gandhi versus Sushma Swaraj in the 1999 general elections
Author:Uwe Skoda
Publication:Contemporary South Asia / Carfax Publishing, part of the Taylor & Francis Gr
Enumeration:vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 273-285, September 2004
Abstract:The general elections in India in 1999 saw a direct contest for a parliamentary seat between Indian National Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Sushma Swaraj, a prominent politician in the Bharatiya Janata Party and former Health Minister. Although the competition took place formally in the rather unknown constituency of Bellary in Karnataka, it got enormous coverage in the north Indian media. This election contest was fought to a large extent on the basis of kinship. On the one hand, Swaraj styled herself a swadeshi beti (Indian daughter) in contrast to Gandhi as a videshi bahu (foreign daughter-in-law), thereby hinting at the latter's Italian origin. On the other hand, Gandhi stressed the relation to her illustrious family, especially her late husband Rajiv Gandhi and deceased mother-in-law Indira Gandhi, both former prime ministers of India. This article uses the 1999 contest between Gandhi and Swaraj to explore the nexus of politics and kinship in India.

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