Union minister Smriti Irani, campaigning for the February 27 Meghalaya Assembly polls, today said the BJP would work to empower the women in the north-eastern state if voted to power. Irani’s rallies, part of the saffron party’s high-voltage campaign for the upcoming polls, were held a day after BJP president Amit Shah promised that Meghalaya would be a model state in five years. Irani addressed two rallies — one here and one at Zikzak — in support of the BJP candidates for the Dalu and Salmanpara seats. “Meghalaya has a unique culture and tradition and the confidence of its women and children is fascinating. Our party believes in empowering women and we will be able to drive the agenda in Meghalaya to further their cause,” the Union information and broadcasting minister said.
She claimed that crimes against women had gone up in the state, despite its matrilineal system, and promised that a dedicated women police force would be set up to ensure women’s security if the BJP was voted to power. “The pride of women has to be restored and we will ensure that the women in Meghalaya feel safe, secure and independent,” Irani said.
She took a jibe at Chief Minister Mukul Sangma for allegedly shielding the state home minister, in connection with a 14-year-old girl’s alleged rape by an MLA at a guest house owned by the home minister’s son in December, 2016.
“The job of a home minister is to protect the women and children, but in Meghalaya, it is the opposite. It is sad and shocking that such an incident took place in Meghalaya where women are held in high esteem. This incident has shamed the state,” Irani said.
She also accused the Congress government in the state of creating “hindrances” to the smooth implementation of central schemes and promised an uninterrupted power supply and jobs for the youth, as envisaged in the BJP’s poll manifesto.
Alleging that the Congress had failed to carry out its responsibilities for 50 years, the Union minister claimed that the Narendra Modi government had made it possible in just three-and-a-half years.
Promising free gas connections to poor rural women, she said, “Modiji has decided to give gas cylinders to the poor women to ease their problems.”
Criticising the health infrastructure of the north-eastern state, she claimed that due to the absence of proper facilities, the people were forced to go to neighbouring Bangladesh for treatment. “It is a blot on the Congress government here that it has not been able to provide healthcare services to its people,” Irani said and accused the Mukul Sangma government of failing to provide crucial medicines to the people at a subsidised rate even after the prime minister’s announcement in this regard.
The BJP has fielded candidates in 47 of the 60 Assembly seats in Meghalaya. It had announced its “Mission 40” last year — to win at least 40 seats in the north-eastern state.