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Politics: Mayawati Naina Kumari


Politics: Mayawati Naina Kumari

Age: 53
Chief Minister, Uttar Pradesh

Mayawati, or Behenji (elder sister), as she is known to her millions of followers, is India's queen of the dalits, the so-called untouchables of India's caste system. They have voted for her overwhelmingly in Uttar Pradesh, the state with the largest number of parliamentary seats. As leader of the Bahujan Samaj Party, or the Majority People's Party, she has ruled Uttar Pradesh with an iron grip. She has erected massive statues of herself and Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar, a dalit-turned-Buddhist who helped write India's constitution in 1950. With her party expected to win a majority of the UP seats, she will be a key coalition partner for all parties—and even a potential Prime Minister, if she can cobble together her own majority.