VIJAYAWADA: With elections only a couple of months away, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu yet again played his women empowerment card and showered sops on women self-help groups (SHGs) in the State. “For continuity of development and women’s empowerment, continuity of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in power is a must,” he emphasised.
Making a whirlwind tour of the State, Naidu addressed women at ‘Pasupu Kumkuma’ meetings at three places — Amaravati, Kadapa and Visakhapatnam on Friday. He announced 30 per cent hike in salaries of Velugu staff, Rs 10 lakh insurance cover and 10-day medical leave apart from promising to consider their demand for regularisation of their services.
He said his government would give Rs 10,000 a gift to each member of Dwcra groups. “It will be given through three cheques. The first cheque for Rs 2,500 can be encashed on the first three days of February, the second for Rs 3,500 on March 8 and the final one for Rs 4,000 can be encashed on April 5,” he said and promised that his government would buy 1.4 crore smartphones for them. He also assured setting up of MSME parks in all Assembly constituencies to encourage them to become entrepreneurs.
Describing himself as their elder brother, the TDP supremo promised another `10,000 for each member of SHGs in a phased manner and health cards. Perhaps keeping in mind that women voters outnumber male voters, he said the 93.80 lakh-strong ‘DWCRA women army’ was his strength.
“The focus on your development and empowerment took place only when I was Chief Minister for nine years before 2004. Only after I came back to power were your needs, including empowerment, taken care of.” While the YS Rajasekhara Reddy government had spent just Rs 200 crore, his government in the past four and a half years spent `21,116 crore for DWCRA, he said.
“Only when TDP retains power in the State will all development programmes being implemented for DWCRA groups and plans for women’s welfare continue. If not, it will be back to square one. For the past four and a half years, I have been thinking of your welfare and striving for your betterment. I appeal to you to think about my government for the next 75 days, so the future can be better for another five years,” he said and urged DWCRA women to see that opposition YSRC candidates lost their deposits in the coming polls. Reiterating the Centre’s betrayals and non-cooperation for the development of the State on various issues, he said despite obstacles, his government made efforts to make the State number one on all fronts.
Naidu explained how he nurtured DWCRA to ensure empowerment and self-respect of women and involve them in implementation of various government welfare schemes. “You have done well by setting an example for others,” he praised them. Giving credit for the success of family planning in Andhra Pradesh to women Dcra members, he called upon them to expand their families. He also credited them for increasing natural farming in the State, which is 8 per cent when compared to 0.6 per cent at national level and 0.3 per cent at world level.
To stress the point that the government is more concerned about their welfare, Naidu said despite being rich, Telangana doesn’t encourage women SHGs like it does in Andhra Pradesh. He also listed out initiatives such as doubling of social security pensions.