The “mother of all state elections", as many have described it, is effectively just weeks away in Uttar Pradesh. And on the day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath made a mega outreach towards “Matr Shakti", i.e., the women voters in the state, the Congress general secretary incharge for Uttar Pradesh, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, alleged on Tuesday that the PM’s gesture was purely out of election concerns. Speaking exclusively to CNN-News18, she said that the success of the Congress’s “Ladki hun, lad sakti hun” (I am a woman, I can fight) campaign has compelled the BJP to talk about women. Claiming that the women of Uttar Pradesh are with her party, Priyanka recalled the famous Hindi film dialogue, “Mere paas maa hai" (I have mother).
The PM was in Prayagraj today and addressed a big gathering of women. He said women have progressed the most under Yogi Adityanath’s government. What is your reaction?
It is good that the Prime Minister is talking about women and I am happy to see that. Clearly, the BJP is afraid that women are going to seek answers for their exploitation in Uttar Pradesh. The events like that of Prayagraj will not cut ice with women. It seems the PM and UP CM have been jolted by our campaign Ladki hun, lad sakti hun, which is resonating with women and girls across the state. I wish to ask the prime minister to speak truthfully about the atrocities that have been committed against them under the Yogi Sarkar. It is no surprise that with eyes on elections, the BJP and other parties are now again eyeing women voters. Even Akhilesh Yadav is talking about them. However, these false promises will not cut ice with women.
If women are coming to the centre stage of the political debate, do you see it as your impact?
It is not a question of our impact. I think our sincere and serious efforts have ignited a debate around women’s issues. But while we are raising our voice with a real commitment to the issue, the BJP is doing so purely out of electoral concerns. Who can forget what happened with the daughter of Hathras, who was raped and then her body burnt. Who can also forget the plight of the Unnao rape victim, where the accused MLA was being shielded by the state government. The Prime Minister never spoke on those issues.
The PM claims that women are most secure in UP; the change has set in ever since Yogi Adityanath became the chief minister…
It is a false statement. I am touring across the state. Women and girls are pouring out in large numbers for our campaign. They are joining our effort. From west to east UP, it is a common story of women’s exploitation. Women’s empowerment can’t be achieved by just giving a gas cylinder or some tokenism. Price rise and rising crime in UP have made life miserable for women. Our Women’s Manifesto and promises are a sincere effort to transform women’s lives. As far as Yogi ji is concerned, everyone knows his real thought process. He once said that we need to keep women’s power under control.
The opposition says the Congress has no base in UP, no caste and religious base, hence this outreach towards women…
Let them say what they have to say. Just remember that famous conversation from the film Deewar. What Shashi Kapoor said in reply to Amitabh Bachchan: “Mere paas maa hai." I can say, “Mere saath UP ki mahilayen hain, behne hain." The women of UP are with me.
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