Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Monday asserted that he was committed to women’s empowerment, but the state Governor (Kamla Beniwal) was creating hurdles in his path by not giving her assent to a bill that the state assembly had passed earmarking 50 per cent reservation for women in state local bodies.
Narendra Modi was addressing the women’s wing of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) — FICCI Ladies Organisation — in the capital and he was asked by a woman member “what measures his party would take on women’s reservation if it came to power at the Centre”.
Modi said entrepreneurship “was often in-built in women” and “if an opportunity is given for it to flourish, it gives results”.
Citing examples from Gujarat, Modi said women entrepreneurs can show the way, if provided the right opportunity, “which is available in plenty” in the state.
A Gujarat Congress leader later, however, claimed that it was only “half-truth” as the move to reserve half of the seats for women in local bodies was supported even by the Congress in the state assembly, but the Chief Minister attached a “clause of compulsory voting” to the bill, something that was objected to by the Governor. The BJP, however, said the Governor “had acted as a Congress agent”.
In his speech targeted at women, where women’s empowerment and equality of the fairer sex were the leitmotifs, and which was laced with humorous anecdotes, Modi also took potshots at the Congress and a subtle dig at Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, as the women members lapped up most of his speech on “Unleash the Entrepreneur Within: Exploring New Avenues”.
If many were seeing in the event a riposte to Rahul’s CII event last week, it was to be expected — during Modi’s interaction, the women members repeatedly cheered him.