Calling for women empowerment, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi Monday said “the idea of equality had been ingrained in his mind because he saw how his grandmother Indira Gandhi’s opinion and consent were considered essential before decisions were taken in his household that included his papa (Rajiv Gandhi) and chacha (Sanjay Gandhi)”.
He was interacting with women activists and representatives from NGOs, SHGs and transgenders to elicit suggestions for the party’s manifesto. Rahul told the gathering that women were competent to protect themselves and rise if given opportunities and rights.
From the women’s reservation Bill to surrogacy to the rights of commercial sex workers to violence against women to discrimination against the disabled, the delegates wanted assurances from the Amethi MP.
“Once you empower a woman then you can’t stop her. Every woman is an asset. All we need is to create equal opportunities. They should be given space and rights,’’ he said. “Though the country became independent long ago the community hasn’t won it yet. What does the Congress have to offer to us,” Laxminarayan Tripathi, a transgender rights activist, asked Rahul, while talking of inclusion and non-discriminatory laws.
A woman representing commercial sex workers from Mumbai told him how there was no policy to protect them and they find it difficult to leave the profession. “When they want admission for their children they are asked to name the father. Make some suitable policy,’’ Rahul was told.
A woman from Gujarat said, “There are no colleges or hostels. There are malls and roads for development but the plight of the poor and Dalits was bad.’’ She said only Muslim clerics are called for minority-related meetings, not women. A representatives from the Northeast talked of harassment of women and the AFSPA and how no political party touched these issues. “A total sense of alienation exists among youth, especially after the exodus from the neighbouring state,’’ she said.
After the interaction, Rahul said, “I am happy. Frankly, the country is safe because we have such talented women like your. Though we have done a few things we need to be more aggressive.’’
Rahul reprimands state unit leaders
BHOPAL: Angry at a series of political reversals in Madhya Pradesh, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi Monday told party colleagues “to stop this tamasha”. “Don’t be seen only in Delhi or Bhopal. Visit villages and smaller towns and agitate for people’s rights,” he told new PCC chief Arun Yadav, adding “he himself was ready to get caned while fighting for people’s issues”. Rahul’s visit to the party headquarters, where he separately met office-bearers and leaders, was chaotic unlike his earlier interaction with women’s groups.
While he received complaints against leaders of different factions, Rahul also faced questions about action he had promised against senior leaders. Rahul rejected forthwith a list of reasons for defeats he was handed before he entered the PCC office, blaming his own party and factions for the drubbing. ENS