With over 387 million women going out to vote in the coming Lok Sabha elections out of a total electorate of 814 million voters, the Congress party as well as the BJP have unleashed a slew of promises for wooing the women in the country in their election manifesto.
Both the national parties have placed the enactment of Women’s Reservation Bill high on their poll promises to women and have pledged their ‘commitment’ to the bill. The bill when it becomes an act would reserve 33% of seats in the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies for women.
Ironically, this Bill which guarantees strong political power to women, was introduced in the Lok Sabha in September 1996 and has faced innumerable hurdles for the last 18 years during which period BJP-led government has ruled the country for six years and the Congress has ruled for more than a decade. On March 9, 2010, the Rajya Sabha has passed the bill and it has been waiting since then for blessings from the Lok Sabha members.
The Congress, if elected to power, promises to take immediate action on formulating a Citizens Charter for Women’s Safety and Security. The party promises Fast track courts with ‘in-camera’ proceedings solely to deal with crimes against women and ensures that atleast 25% of total police officers in the country including subinspectors and constables would be women. “We will ensure the number of women police stations in the country goes up from 500 to 2000 in the next five years,” the Congress manifesto says.
For the rural Indian woman, Congress will earmark atleast 30% of all funds flowing into panchayats and nagarpalikas for development of women and children. “We will encourage the setting up of “Poorn Shakti Kendras” at block level to provide a single window mechanism for awareness, information, access and utilisation of government schemes and programmes,” the party manifesto says.
Criticizing the Congress for not utilizing the Nirbhaya fund, BJP in its manifesto promises to clear it on priority and ensure relief and rehabilitation for rape victims.
“Government will create an Acid Attack victims welfare fund to take care of the mdical costs related to treatment and cosmetic reconstructive surgeries of such victims,” BJP manifesto states.
The BJP, if elected to power, promises to enable them with training and skills through setting up dedicated Women ITIs, make police stations friendly and increase the presence of fairer sex besides introducing self defence as a part of the school curriculum.
The saffron party will also set up a dedicated W-SME (Women Small and medium enterprises) cluster in every district and sure that loans to Women Self Help Groups would be available at low interest rates.