Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who interacted with the women representatives here on Monday as part of the party’s programme to consult all the stakeholders before drafting the party’s election manifesto for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls, said that until and unless the rights and empowerment of the womenfolk were guaranteeed, the country could not rightfully stake its claim to be a modern-day superpower.
“We can’t call ourselves a superpower till the women of our country don’t feel safe. If we empower women, they cannot be stopped. They can achieve anything,” he said.
Recalling an incident in his home constituency of Amethi, where he saw a man beating up his wife because she hadn’t cooked food for him, Rahul said “rights and empowerment” were far more important to women than protection.
On a more personal note, the young leader said the “boss” in the family during his childhood was always his dadi (grandmother), former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. “Let me tell you in my house there was papa (father), chacha (father’s younger brother), but the boss of the house was always my dadi,” he said.
Addressing the gathering Rahul said that unlike the other parties, where the preparation of the manifesto is a closed-door affair involving just four or five top brass, the Congress wants to incorporate the suggestions of the common people while drafting its manifesto.
“We want your views on the manifesto that we are preparing for the Lok Sabha elections. We will incorporate all the suggestions, which can be included”, he said. Incidentally, Monday’s interaction was the third of its kind undertaken by Rahul. Earlier, he had participated in meetings involving the tribals and minorities in Delhi. Among those whom Rahul spoke to also included members of the ‘Gulabi gang’– a group of women vigilantes. And a commercial sex worker(CSW), who was part of the gathering, told the Congress scion that the system of affixing the name of the father in the school admission form should be abolished since it was hindering the CSWs from securing school admission for their wards. Transgender activist Lakshmi Narayan Tripaty wanted to know from Rahul how he was planning to help the transgender population if the Congress were voted to power.
“You cannot imagine the problems we face, we cannot walk on the streets due to constant taunts from the public,” said Lakshmi.
Nearly 250 women from various walks of life put questions to the Congress scion at the meeting organised by the All India Mahila Congress at the Minto Hall, which is the old Vidhan Sabha.