Congress president Rahul Gandhi, on a visit to Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday, criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s “inability” to check rising crime against women and promised special category status to the state bifurcated in 2014 with the creation of Telangana as a separate state.At an interaction with woman students in Kurnool, the Congress leader said the Prime Minister was lacking both direction and conviction in ensuring women’s safety. He repeated the same charge on Twitter with specific reference to the PM’s “silence” on the gang rape of a board exam topper in Haryana , and said this was “unacceptable”. In Kurnool, Gandhi also cited one case of an alleged rape by an Uttr Pradesh legislator from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and claimed that the PM had failed to even condemn the incident and express solidarity with the victim. A slew of high-profile rape cases and sexual abuse reported from all over the country have raised concerns over women’s safety in the country ahead of state elections this year leading up to Lok Sabha polls in 2019. The Congress chief urged women to enter politics and the armed forces to change their own destiny. Rahul’s attack on the PM drew sharp criticism from the BJP with the party’s state vice-president, Turaga Nagabhushanam, stating that women’s safety was a top priority for the NDA government. “Our government has introduced as many as 14 special schemes for the uplift of women in the last four years”, she said. During his visit, the Congress chief promised that if his party comes to power in 2019, its first action would be to provide special category status to Andhra Pradesh along with special economic support for backward regions like the state’s Rayalaseema region.Nagabhushanam, however, termed Gandhi’s promise as mere “empty talk”.