Like her husband, 39-year-old Dimple has until recently been seen as something of a political lightweight, a nice girl who was unprepared for the cut and thrust of Indian politics. In a draining assembly campaign, she has been unflagging, the Samajwadi Party’s most reliable performer, her husband apart. Once mocked for fumbling through speeches in Parliament, Dimple’s delivery has been a revelation, confident, funny, and unafraid to take opponents, including the prime minister, to task.
As the campaign swings into its final phases, she has been particularly prominent. In a rally in Badlapur on February 26, she criticised the Election Commission for ordering the removal of the word ‘Samajwadi’ from the side of nearly 1,500 state-run 24-hour ambulances. She then turned her attentions to Amit Shah. “BJP says ‘Ka’ stands for Congress,” she said, “your Akhilesh bhaiyya says ‘Ka’ stands for computer, ‘Sa’ for smartphone, through which you can get all the information you need about the policies of the government, and ‘B’ for bachche.” Akhilesh’s response to Shah’s provocations had, in fact, been much less sanguine, less winning. He employed sarcasm where she chose charm. Not that Dimple can’t be more frankly disapproving. Referring to the Prime Minister, she said, “Jo teen saal se mann ki baat kar rahe they, unke mann ki baat mein tha bhedbhaa