2022 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections: Major political parties vying to win support of women
A game of political one-upmanship is being witnessed among the major political parties ever since Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra promised 40% party tickets to women candidates and made some populist announcements for them ahead of the 2022 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.
After making the populist announcements, the Congress has now begun a direct interaction with women, bringing women’s issues into political focus. Other major political parties too are now moving forward with programmes or announcements focusing on women.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra gave a bit of political twist to the Bollywood film Deewar’s iconic dialogue “mere paas maa hai” on Wednesday to make her point that the Congress, she hoped, would get the support of the women in 2022 polls.
“Mere pass behenein hain….behenein rajniti main badlav laayengi (I have sisters…. Sisters will bring about a change in politics),” Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said in a tweet in Hindi on Wednesday with the #Ladki_hoon_lad_sakti_hoon. (I am a girl, I can fight). Priyanka made the observation in response to a question about the Congress that was not left with any strong base in the politics of caste and community.
A video clip of her reply to newspersons quoting the “mere paas maa hai” dialogue has been posted along with the tweet.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had on Sunday launched a direct dialogue with women at the Women’s Town Hall titled Shakti Samvad in Rae Bareli. She referred to the PM’s Tuesday meeting at Prayagraj, saying, “We are half of the population and the political parties are not taking the women seriously… the Congress’s initiative of empowering the women has awakened the political parties now. Asha bahu’s honorarium has been raised and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is going to hold an all-women meeting.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday addressed women beneficiaries of various government schemes at a programme in Prayagraj. He said the daughters of Uttar Pradesh would not let the parties that ran the previous governments come to power in the state. Adding to her Sunday’s observations, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in a twitter post on Tuesday said, “UP’s women may see. You stretched and Prime Minister @narendramodi has bowed before you. But this is only the beginning. There is going to be a storm of women power. Women’s unity will lead to revolution.”
The Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), too, are not lagging behind in making claims about the work done by them to empower women. SP chief Akhilesh Yadav has referred to the work his government did for women in a post on social media on Tuesday.
“The Samajwadi Party government worked for girls and women and for their empowerment in a true manner by distributing laptops, ‘Kanya Vidya Dhan’, launching 1090 women helpline and providing ambulance service for them. Problems, scarcity and their humiliation have put women against the BJP,” Akhilesh Yadav said in a tweet on Tuesday.
The SP may make some announcements in its poll manifesto in the coming weeks. The SP chief, viewing the sensitivity of women issues, recently distanced himself from party MPs’ observations with regard to the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021 that Union minister for women and child development Smriti Irani tabled in Lok Sabha on Tuesday. The amended bill proposes to increase the minimum age of marriage of women from 18 to 21 years. The bill was later referred by the lower house to a parliamentary standing committee for further scrutiny.
The BSP has said it is following in the footsteps of Baba Saheb Bhimrao Ambedkar to empower women and has demanded reservation for them.
“Half of the population is women. But they are still deprived of their rights though respected Baba Saheb Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar has contributed a lot to empower them by giving them legal rights. Now the BSP is following in his footsteps…. The Congress and the BJP have almost the same opinion about women empowerment and they believe only in show off. The BSP government worked a lot for social, economic and educational self-reliance of women and the parties opposed to the BSP are now encashing the same…Also, the BJP and the Congress are not serious about making women strong and self-reliant. This is evident from the issue of 33% reservation for women that is pending in the Lok Sabha and legislative assemblies for years. The BSP demands reservation for women,” said BSP chief Mayawati in a series of tweets on Wednesday.
The Election Commission’s statistics for the 2017 assembly elections indicates that UP had a total of 14,16,63,646 voters that year. Out of them, 77,042,607 were males, 64,613,747 females and 7292 other category voters. Out of this, 8,67,55,499 votes were polled. Those who turned up for voting included 4,55,70,067 male voters, 40906123 female voters and 277 other category voters. In all, 2,79,032 postal votes were also cast in the 2017 polls.
On the importance of women in the elections, AK Singh former director, Giri Institute of Development Studies, Lucknow, said: “Women constitute 50% of the voters and they vote in large numbers. Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra adopted a strategy to focus on them. The BJP appears wary because SP chief Akhilesh Yadav is getting a good response. The fight is becoming close and every vote is going to count.”
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