Smita Patil, daughter of former home minister and senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader RR Patil was appointed as the state president of the Rashtrawadi Yuvati Congress (RYC) on Wednesday. The RYC is the women’s youth wing of the party, founded by Supriya Sule, party MP and daughter of NCP chief, Sharad Pawar. It aims to mobilise young women, especially those from rural and upcoming towns in Maharashtra.
Patil’s father — who was mentored by Pawar — was the NCP’s most popular face, especially in rural Maharashtra. Patil died of oral cancer in 2015.
Smita, a law graduate, pursuing her second year of Masters in Business is the first state president of the wing, which was set up in 2012. Her appointment ahead of the local self government elections including the 26 Zilla Parishads is being seen as the party’s bid to woo young women and induce them to join.
Young women largely from rural areas were leading agitations at several places during the Maratha silent protests. As a young Maratha leader, Smita is perfectly positioned to lead the youth, said a party functionary.
Smita told HT that one of her first steps will be to undertake a statewide tour to make young women aware of their rights and to help them fight harassment.
“It is so shameful to see incidents such as Kopardi [the rape and murder of a minor in Kopardi, Ahmednagar] in a progressive state such as Maharashtra. This problem can be rooted out only when victims start raising their voice without any fear,” Smita told HT.
The objective of her tour is to create awareness and instil confidence in girls. “The fear of social stigma often stops women from approaching the police and law enforcement agencies,” she said.
The delay in filing cases results in losing crucial evidence, which also affects court verdicts, she added. Patil will conduct guidance camps at colleges across the state and form flying squads comprising two-three women from the RYC in rural areas. The squads will create confidence among the families of women who have been victims of a crime.
Patil criticised chief minister Devendra Fadnavis for allegedly failing to control law and order, especially in cases related to crimes against women. She demanded that a full-time minister be appointed to the home department, currently held by him.