Women can make votebank politics redundant, says Narendra Modi

By Hemant Abhishek | Last Updated: Saturday, March 8, 2014 - 22:29

Zee Media Bureau/Hemant Abhishek

New Delhi: As part of the ‘Chai Pe Charcha with NaMo’ programme held on the occasion of International Women’s Day on Saturday, Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi took the opportunity to address queries of women from all across the country and spelled out his ideas to solving problems faced by womenfolk in India.
The Gujarat chief minister who was at the BJP headquarters here interacted with people from around 1,500 different locations via video-conferencing.

Keeping in mind the upcoming polls, Modi said there was a pressing need for more effective role of women in the elections and felt this would be beneficial for the nation. “Elections have been announced. If the women of India decide we will shape India`s future, no votebank can do anything,” he avered.

Spelling out his roadmap for empowering women in the country, so as to turn “home-makers into nation-makers”, Modi said that ever since he took over the reins of Gujarat he has made efforts to educate more women. “If we educate a woman we don`t only educate a family but we educate generations. Women education is very important,” he said.

“We saw drop-out rates (in Gujarat) increased after Class III and IV and we realised that this was because of lack of toilet facilities and we tried to change it,” said Modi.

Discrimination was another bane for women, felt Modi and added, “Why must we see sons and daughters differently. We need to be free from that.”

Modi said there was a need to pass the Women`s Reservation
Bill, but averred that the need was for going beyond laws by making women partners in the decision-making process. Women should be empowered right from birth, he said.

Joined at the BJP headquarters by many women achievers, including former IPS officer Kiran Bedi and former Indian women`s cricket team captain Ajum Chopra, Modi said he found it strange and felt sad when people blamed all sorts of things, including women`s clothes, for cases of assault on them.

On issues of women empowerment there must be no compromise—from birth, education to health said the BJP leader, and added that women should be able to “decide when to get married, how many children they want, to build a career.”

Addressing a question regarding the safety of women, or rather the lack of it, Modi said that “a man must be ashamed if he commits a crime against women.” And he attacked the UPA government for twiddling its thumbs over the sensitive issue.

“Centre set up the Nirbhaya Fund worth Rs 1000 crore. From what I know not a single penny has been spent from it. They also added more money this year but still nothing has been done,” said the Gujarat CM.

Quoting a media report, he said that the `181` helpline it had started has also stopped working as employees running it are not being paid.

The said helpline, however, has been reportedly revived after government cleared the salary arrears.

"It shows how insensitive, unserious they are," he said.

Like every problem, Modi said there was a solution to the lack of safety for women as well, “bas irada aur niyat chahiye (all that is required is the will and the right intention).”

He said his dream was to have an India by 2022 where every family has a home with power, water and accessible education facilities for their children. The country will celebrate 75 years of independence in 2022.

"Time has come when we all should think what kind of India we want to have in 2022... If we start this project (housing), imagine how much positive impact it will have on jobs, education and health of people.

"When I get the chance to serve the country, which I will with your blessings, I will start it," he said.

If the government can provide electricity and water to homes in all villages, that would hugely empower women as, for many of them, life is all about fetching water from far and working in smoke-filled kitchens.

Asked what he had personally done for women, Modi said he had taken a decision to auction all the presents he receives, the proceeds from which would go towards the education of girls, which was in a poor state in Gujarat when he took over as the chief minister.

"All CMs before me deposited 200-250 gifts with the government. I alone have submitted 3,000-4,000 gifts, which have fetched Rs 70 crore so far," he said.

(With PTI Inputs)

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First Published: Saturday, March 8, 2014 - 18:38

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