Julia Gillard had it very hard as Australias first woman PM. India will remember her with warmth
For her detractors,what Julia Gillard had done unto Kevin Rudd has been done unto her. Three years and three days after Gillard ousted Rudd from the leadership of Australias Labor Party and the prime ministership,and weeks after she had crushed Rudd in an earlier leadership vote,Rudd is back as PM a day after he returned to head his party. Gillard,meanwhile,has had to adhere to the pledge that whoever lost would retire from politics. But for many,Gillard has all along been more sinned against than sinning.
Gillards tenure of textbook pragmatism that helped her run a minority government had absorbed wave after wave of political and personal attacks led by Rudd and his supporters as well as from the opposition. Less popular among voters than Rudd,Gillard withstood,most infamously,a barrage of sexist attacks she was called a witch,ridiculed for her big thighs. The lessons she learnt,as Australias first female PM,will sit heavy on the next woman who aims half as high. Nevertheless,Gillards attempts to launch a political gender war were undermined by her own actions too,such as supporting for speaker a man accused of sending obscene text messages about women,or reducing the income of single mothers.
A highly skilled negotiator,Gillard presided over perhaps the strongest economy in the developed world. India will remember her with particular warmth. Not only did she stare down the Labor left to end a decades-old ban on uranium sales to India as PM,Rudd had refused to sell nuclear material because India is not a signatory to the NPT but,along with Manmohan Singh,she also reinvented the bilateral relationship,investing it with the possibility of a close strategic partnership in the coming era of the Indo-Pacific.