Animal-rights activist Maneka Gandhi made a comeback to the union cabinet as the only member of the Gandhi family in the BJP-led government.
The seven-time MP and younger daughter-in-law of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Maneka Sanjay Gandhi was also in the council of ministers during the previous NDA government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee as the first Animal Welfare Minister of the country.
In just-concluded Lok Sabha election, Maneka won from the Pilibhit constituency by a margin of over 3 lakh votes.
Maneka Gandhi joined active politics after the death of her husband Sanjay Gandhi in an air crash in 1980 and floated her own political outfit in March 1983 after she fell-out with her mother-in-law.
However, she had lost the 1984 Lok Sabha elections from Amethi and lost to former Prime Minister and her
brother-in-law Rajiv Gandhi.
Though Maneka Gandhi was part of the NDA government under Vajpayee, she joined BJP officially only in 2004.
Maneka’s anger was directed at three notifications issued by the Environment Ministry in the last six months, each declaring a wild animal ‘vermin’, or pest, in a state for the period of one year. The ministry had, in December, declared blue bull, or nilgai, a vermin in Bihar.
The draft bill aims to treat survivors as victims in need of assistance and protection rather than as criminals, and to unify existing anti-trafficking laws, prioritise survivors' needs, and prevent victims such as those found in brothel raids from being arrested and jailed like traffickers.
Gandhi put the onus of ensuring the annual check-up of women on their husbands, saying it is often the negligence on their part that aggravates the condition of a woman suffering from diseases such as cancer or TB.
Section 375 of IPC, which deals with rape, makes an exception for such instances within marriages. It holds that “sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not rape”.
The government remains unconvinced about criminalising marital rape as Maneka Gandhi told Rajya Sabha on Thursday that a country like India is not ready for the change due to factors like poverty, illiteracy and religious beliefs.
"Minister WCD clarifies that there is no Cabinet proposal for tracking the sex of a foetus and that compulsory determination of foetal sex is an idea given by some stakeholders," WCD ministry said on twitter.
In his letter, Jaitley objected to Maneka’s suggestion on the ground that industry representatives were against “enhanced disclosures under the Companies Act, 2013 and adding to these may not be desirable”.
In an exclusive interview to NDTV, Gandhi said, "It is a question of putting the blame always...the west did it. They may have done it 100 years ago. India is one of the main players in destroying the climate."