Lok Sabha elections 2019: To BJP’s ‘double engine’ govt push, Naveen Patnaik answers with call for women’s empowerment
Taking potshots at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for a double engine government of the same party at the state and Centre to push for Odisha’s growth, chief minister Naveen Patnaik has said a real change can only be brought about by empowering women in Parliament and state assemblies.
The Prime Minister had stressed on having a “double engine” government with the BJP’s rule at the Centre and the state for Odisha’s speedy development at an election rally on Tuesday in Bhawanipatna town of Kalahandi district.
On Monday, BJP president Amit Shah in two different election rallies in Odisha had also stressed on a “double engine” government. Several other BJP leaders, including Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, during their visit to Odisha, have repeatedly spoken about the BJP’s government at the Centre as well as in Odisha.
Reading out a pre-written speech at Naveen Niwas on Thursday evening, Patnaik said a nation that does not give effective representation to women in its highest decision-making forum is running on a single engine.
“If India has to hit the highway of growth and compete with the likes of the US and China, it has to transform its political landscape by empowering women. This is the real double engine the country needs, to bring about growth with equity and justice,” Patnaik said.
“If politics is the exercise of power, women have a more humane touch in its expression. If politics can decide a nation’s values, is it prudent to have half our population not actively involved in decision making?” he asked.
The chief minister said one of his most satisfying moments as the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) chief was when his party decided to provide 33% reservation for women candidates in the Lok Sabha election 2019.
Patnaik on Wednesday nominated the seventh woman candidate for the Lok Sabha election from his Biju Janata Dal on Wednesday, keeping his word of 33% reservation for women in the general elections. The BJD has announced all the 21 candidates for the Lok Sabha election 2019, which will be held in the state in four phases from April 11.
“Both the national parties in their manifestos have repeatedly spoken about women’s empowerment, but somewhere when it comes to walking the talk there is a deafening silence,” he said as he asserted that the BJD has done its bit to break this silence.
Patnaik said he has faith on the people of the state that they will ensure the voice of the BJD’s seven women candidates is heard in Parliament and hoped the movement which has started from Odisha will be followed by all national parties.
Patnaik’s decision to field 33% women was praised by BJP leader Shaina NC, who said she was “upset and appalled” as most of the leading political parties, including her own, have not given enough representation to women in the Lok Sabha election.
The spokesperson of the BJP’s Maharashtra unit said all other parties need to “wake up” as they only pay “lip service” to women’s causes.
To put his point across he spoke about Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand and Angela Markel of Germany, and said they were examples of what women can bring to politics.
“Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, stunned the whole world in the aftermath of the deadliest mass shootings aimed at refugees who were at their Friday Prayers by stating, ‘New Zealand is their home (referring to the Refugees and migrant killed). They are us’,” he said.
“ Similarly, Angela Markel, the German Chancellor, was perhaps the only leader who welcomed Refugees from other countries – transcending Nationality and showing compassion to fellow humans,” he added.
Crediting his father and former chief minister Biju Patnaik as one of the pioneers in women’s empowerment by introducing 33% reservation for women in panchayati raj institutions, Naveen Patnaik said there was a lot of criticism initially as most people said that the husbands and fathers of these candidates will actually run the show.
“But today more than 60,000 women in Odisha are doing remarkable jobs as ward members, sarpanchs, panchayat samiti chairpersons and vice-chairpersons, zilla parishad members and zilla parishad presidents,” he said.
He credited grass root women leaders and the 70 lakh member of Mission Shakti, Odisha’s flagship self-help group programme, in the state’s improvement in the socio-economic indicators like infant mortality rate (IMR) and maternal mortality rate (MMR).
“If we had adequate representation of women, our approach to a multitude of issues would have been different. Questions of war, peace and terrorism would be differently decided,” said Patnaik.
“Our laws on rape, sexual assault and dowry will be more effectively implemented. Education and health would be given much more focus. Empowering household incomes will be as much a priority as empowering corporate incomes.”