As the Congress made an aggressive pitch in Uttar Pradesh’s electoral battle on Tuesday with the promise of giving 40% of its tickets to women, party’s general secretary and state in charge Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, in an exclusive conversation with CNN-News18, says her decision is based on both realism and idealism.
Slamming the Yogi Adityanath government on the issue of crimes against women, Priyanka says the Uttar Pradesh chief minister has a “patriarchal mindset” and wants to keep women under supervision. On her contesting the upcoming UP polls, she said she has kept the issue “open for now”, adding that she has yet “not decided on the matter”.
You made an aggressive press conference today with a revolutionary announcement. What is behind this idea?
As I said earlier, over the last two years wherever I went to UP, I had seen women struggling, fighting for their rights. In every walk of (life) women have been fighting for their rights. Violence against women has increased. From Unnao to Hathras to Lakhimpur, women have been the victims of patriarchy, caste domination and exploitation. I feel a larger participation in politics is the key to fighting it out against oppression.
Was this the idea ever since you got active into UP politics in 2019 or did you gradually arrive on it as you moved across the state?
I was moved the most by the plight of the Unnao girl who was burnt to death close to her house. The way she was aspiring to move ahead despite all odds, moved me. I gradually started noticing that girls today want to fight for their rights. Women are not just ready to accept their exploitation. This spirit of struggle kindles a lot of hope.
There is always a question of idealism versus realism in politics. Do you think your idea is realistic as well? Have you calculated on political ‘nafa nuksan’?
Idealism and realism need to co-exist in politics. I truly believe it is both idealistic as well as realistic as 50% of our society comprises women so, what stops them from coming together. Effort is now being made to build this unity.
Opposition says you don’t have a caste or religious base in UP. Can you throw a new hat in the ring?
This is a positive move. Opposition will see it with a negative mindset. Let them do so. I believe the real purpose of politics is development and change for the betterment. Today, the meaning of politics has changed. Today, there is all false propaganda about development and better life. But who is able to pay Rs 1,000 for a cooking gas cylinder? Who is not troubled with the escalating prices of petrol and diesel? People are thinking what betterment has taken place in their life? People are unable to meet the household expenses but advertisements claim that all is good.
In 2017, Rahul Gandhi attacked the RSS on women’s issues. He said the RSS is anti-women. Would you like to add?
What does the UP CM say? He says women should live under paternal guidance. When this is the thought process, I wonder in what generation of mindset they live. In every speech you say ‘mataon bahino’ (mothers and sisters). Yes, we are ‘mothers and sisters’, but we also have an identity as a woman. What’s the point when you can’t recognise us women.
Are you going to contest the polls?
That is not the issue I had yet taken a call about. Let’s see how things progress on in the time to come.