• Sunday, April 21, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Modi plans to connect with female voters on Women’s Day

The PM made a scathing attack on the opposition Trinamool Congress, the ruling party of the Indian state of West Bengal, over alleged atrocities committed against the women there.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi (C) gestures during a Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) gathering of women to address the women’s reservation bill passed in September 2023, in Ahmedabad in the Gujarat state on September 26, 2023. (Photo by SAM PANTHAKY/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

WITH prime minister Narendra Modi around, India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) never falls short of unique ideas to appeal to the electorate. With the general elections approaching and the Hindu nationalist party aiming to secure 370 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha or Lower House of the parliament, the goal is to put a special emphasis on the women voters in key states.

If media reports are to be believed, Modi is likely to make some “big announcements” related to the matter on March 8, which is celebrated as the International Women’s Day.

Sources in the BJP said it was looking at making efforts to expand its support base among women in several key states in a bid to connect with the voters who have otherwise felt disenchanted with issues such as unemployment, inflation and agricultural distress.

As an example of the party’s focus on women, it has launched a strong campaign over alleged atrocities committed against women in Sandeshkhali in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal, which is ruled by the Trinamool Congress, one of the opposition parties. The atrocities were allegedly carried out by none other than a now-suspended strongman of the ruling party. Modi himself slammed the Trinamool Congress in an address in Bengal in an effort to show his party’s outreach to raise its tally in the Lok Sabha from the state which sends 42 lawmakers to the chamber.

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The prime minister is also expected to address the national meeting of the BJP’s women’s wing in Barasat in North 24 Parganas district of Bengal on the eve of the International Women’s Day. Several women from Sandeshkhali are likely to be present on the occasion besides women beneficiaries of various schemes run by the Modi government.

Bengal, which has a woman chief minister in Mamata Banerjee, witnesses a high women voter turnout and Modi’s BJP is trying to win over those voters in the upcoming election.

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In other central Indian states such as Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh where the BJP returned to power last December, women votes played a crucial role, according to BJP leaders who feel the promises of financial assistance and implementation of welfare schemes helped their cause.

The BJP has included 28 members in its first list of candidates for the general elections that featured 195 names. More women candidates are likely to feature in the subsequent lists. Modi reportedly reiterated that more women candidates should be fielded in the elections during the BJP’s marathon overnight meeting held in New Delhi last week.

It is not the first time that Modi has emphasised on women’s welfare. Schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, slogans such as ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ (Save girls, educate girls) and passing a bill in the parliament to provide 33 per cent reservation of seats for women both in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies have been examples of his government’s pro-women policies.

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