India’s Congress Unveils 'Manifesto for Women' to Woo Voters in Uttar Pradesh

© AP Photo / Anupam NathIndians hold placards protesting against the alleged gang rape and killing of a Dalit woman in Uttar Pradesh state, in Gauhati, India, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020
Indians hold placards protesting against the alleged gang rape and killing of a Dalit woman in Uttar Pradesh state, in Gauhati, India, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020 - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.12.2021
All political parties in India’s Uttar Pradesh have ramped up their preparations for the crucial assembly polls to be held in early 2022. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is stressing all that it has achieved over the past four-and-a-half years and the opposition is missing no opportunity to highlight the government's failures.
India’s main opposition party Congress on Wednesday unveiled a manifesto dedicated to women - making this the first of its kind - in the run-up to the legislative assembly polls in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
The party seeks to return to power in the state after more than three decades.
Launching Congress’ “manifesto for women”, the party's General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also flagged the issue of security for women in the state.
The manifesto includes giving each woman three free LPG cylinders - a significant offer given the rocketing prices of gas cylinders in the country. The Ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been severely criticised for the hike in fuel prices.
"I hope this women's manifesto will put pressure on other political parties to speak about similar issues," said Vadra, the daughter of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.
The six-point “woman’s manifesto” also includes the promise of providing smartphones to girls studying in the 10th to 12th Classes, and scooters to female graduate students in the State.
Other promises include a monthly pension of INR1,000 ($13.25) to senior female citizens and widows along with a fixed deposit in the name of every new-born girl and free internet connection to every household with women.
Holding up as an example her grandmother, the late Congress leader and India’s first female Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, as how Congress has helped women in politics, Vadra said that her party’s promise to reserve 40 percent of its election tickets for women “is not just on paper”.
"Our attempt is to bring real women's empowerment... at the grassroots level. Women's empowerment is usually spoken about before elections and then mostly restricted to being on paper. We want to empower women on the ground," she stated.
"Parliament and legislative assemblies have an average of 14 percent participation by women representatives. That needs to increase... we want that 40 percent of all seats should be represented by women. This will increase their participation in policy-making," she stressed.
Elections in Uttar Pradesh are expected to be held in March to April 2022 and are widely seen as an indicator of the performance of the parties in parliamentary elections.
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