On Sunday, Rekha Aklot, a farmer from Marathwada got her two minutes of fame and thunderous applause after her first speech before thousands of women at Shanmukhananda Hall.
Aklot shared the stage with political heavyweights like Union agriculture minister and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar and Union minister Praful Patel among others.
At the NCP’s launch of the first-of-its-kind, youth wing for women – Rastrawadi Yuvati Congress, a political platform for women in the age group 18 to 35 years, many of the 3,000 young women from diverse backgrounds, spoke about their aspirations.
“I till my fields single-handedly, like many women in rural areas, as many of our husbands are wasted because of their addiction to alcohol. So, why is it taboo for me to step out of my village to attend an agriculture convention? Why does the government not organise agriculture training for women? Aklot said. If the success of the launch is anything to go by, this youth wing will be a force for the party to woo women voters as it heads towards the 2014 elections. It will also provide NCP with a ready army of young political workers, important with 50% of reservation for women in local self-government bodies.
NCP MP and daughter of Pawar, Supriya Sule, the force behind RYC, signalled that the youth wing would make its presence felt in the coming years. “If there is a single case henceforth of female foeticide in the state, we will come out on to the streets and protest. Young girls and women in RYC are enthusiastic to work on issues as diverse as domestic violence to better sanitation,” Sule said.
There has been speculation of RYC being used to increase Sule’s political clout in the state vis a vis her cousin and deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar but she has refuted this. On Sunday, there was an easy camaraderie between the cousins, though the buzz over the rivalry is unlikely to go away.
That the party plans to put all its strength behind this political exercise was clear when party chief Pawar said, “In the next 15 days we will hold a discussion and chart out an agenda for RYC. In my last 50 years in public life, this is my most memorable moment.”'