Updated: March 26, 2021 2:29:34 pm
Ahead of the approaching assembly elections, parties fighting it out in four states –– West Bengal, Assam, Kerala and Tamil Nadu –– and one Union Territory –– Puducherry –– have gone all out to woo women voters, coming up with special schemes for homemakers or women heads of families. Stressing on uplifting housewives, many parties have incorporated in their manifestos initiatives to pay them for their unaccounted labour.
Mamata Banerjee’s Rs 500 per month promise for women heads in Bengal
Trinamool Congress, which is locked in a fierce poll battle with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress-Left alliance in Bengal, has promised to implement a ‘monthly basic income’ scheme, whereby the ‘women heads’ of families will be entitled to a stipend of Rs 500 per month for the general category and Rs 1,000 per month for SC, ST and OBCs categories. Announcing the manifesto, state Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee said there are at least 1.6 crore general caste families who will derive benefit from the scheme. This is over and above existing schemes like free ration, healthcare benefits, among others, Banerjee added.
With the Trinamool targeting women voters in Bengal through its slogan ‘Bangla nijer meyekei chay (Bengal only wants its own daughter)’, the BJP manifesto talked of free education to girls ‘from KG to PG’, 33 per cent reservation for women in government jobs, and free public transport for women.
In Tamil Nadu, DMK, AIADMK, MNM compete to woo homemakers
In Tamil Nadu, parties are competing with each other in announcing allowances of various amounts for housewives to reward their unacknowledged job. Releasing his party’s vision document for the next 10 years, DMK president M K Stalin has promised Rs 1,000 as monthly wage for housewives in Tamil Nadu for their till-now unpaid labour. Announcing Rs 1,000 ‘rights’ assistance every month for all the women family heads in Tamil Nadu, Stalin said this will surely benefit all the families that get food (essential) commodities from Public Distribution Outlets.
Just a day after DMK’s announcement, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami promised that the AIADMK will give a monthly allowance of Rs 1,500 to all housewives and six free gas cylinders annually to each family if it was returned to power after the upcoming Assembly elections in the state. Extending his greetings on the occasion of International Women’s Day, Palaniswami said the announcement was a gift for the women of the state. Asked whether his party was following the DMK’s idea, Palaniswami said the decision was a part of their party’s manifesto, discussions regarding which have been taking place over the past 10 days. “The DMK might have made their announcement in advance after they got leaks regarding AIADMK’s manifesto. It is natural to have similar ideas,” the Chief Minister said.
Makkal Needhi Maiam chief and actor Kamal Haasan has also promised to provide housewives opportunities to hone their skills. Women can earn as much as Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 per month by initiatives like skill development, and “that is what we call payment to housewives and not doles to them,” he said. The first to promise what he called in December ‘payment’ to homemakers for their work, Haasan alleged that Stalin’s DMK has stolen ideas from his party.
Congress, LDF promise payment to housewives in Kerala
Congress MP Rahul Gandhi has promised a monthly allowance of Rs 2000 to housewives between 40 and 60 years of age in Kerala. Following the Congress’ footsteps, Left Democratic Front (LDF) too has in their manifesto announced a pension scheme for homemakers, “acknowledging the value of their work”. However, the LDF document gives no details regarding its pension scheme for women or the criteria for it.
Congress to give Rs 2,000 ‘grihini samman’ to Assam homemakers
Making an announcement similar to Congress’ promise in Kerala, party leader Priyanka Gandhi has in Assam stated that all the housewives would be given a ‘grihini samman’ of Rs 2,000 per month, while the women who work in the state’s tea gardens would get Rs 365 a day if the Congress is voted to power.
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