Bhubaneswar:March 08 (LocalWire) Visiting Jeypore in Koraput district on the International Women’s Day in what was his third visit to the state in the last two months Congress president, Rahul Gandhi played the woman card to the hilt.
Apart from wowing young girls and women during his interaction with them at the Sibasai Kalyan Mandap in the town he held out several promises including making a sincere attempt to get the women’s reservation bill passed in the Parliament and adopting a policy of zero tolerance towards atrocities on women if voted to power.
“There is an urgent need to provide reservation for women in state assemblies and Lok Sabha to ensure their empowerment. The Congress is keen to ensure this,” the Gandhi scion said during his interaction with women that saw him fielding questions from young girls and women happily.
While he promised zero tolerance towards atrocities against women and speedy justice in cases of atrocities he also assured women in the state free education.
“ All women, particularly tribals, Dalits and those belonging to the backward categories should get free education to ensure they are truly empowered,” the Congress president added while congratulating women on the occasion of International Women’s Day.
Marriage kits for girls and enhanced widow pensions are among some of the other assurances that the Congress chief reportedly made.
Sources said apparently having been briefed about instances of women delivering babies by the roadside in the inaccessible areas of the district, where road communication is still in a bad shape, the Gandhi scion talked about making arrangement for safe deliveries and better hospitals.
While Congress’s “yuvraj” launched a frontal attack on chief minister, Naveen Patnaik accusing him of converting his government into an “ officer raj” with a handful of bureaucrats calling the shots he also brought up the Rafale issue in a district which houses the MIG factory of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
With elections likely to be announced any day now Rahul was right in targeting both Prime Minister,
Narendra Modi and chief minister, Naveen Patnaik who happen to be his main enemies at the Centre and the state respectively.
The promises that he made to women on a day of symbolic significance for them were expectedly lapped up by the fair sex members who constituted a sizeable part of his audience.
However, the benefits that the party may reap from the repeated visits of Gandhi to the state remains a debatable issue.
The party, which has been out of power in the state since 2000, is still struggling to put its act together.
Even in a district like Koraput, which was once a Congress bastion, it remains a divided house with the party’s Jeypore MLA, Tara Prasad Bahinipati being at variance with most other leaders in the region.
It was his hostile attitude towards other party leaders in the district that saw Koraput MLA and dalit leader, Krushna Chandra Sagaria resign his assembly seat and then join the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) about a month ago.
Sagaria had openly criticized Bahinipati and his wide Meekashi who happens to be Koraput district Congress chief.
The party has suffered similar blows also in some other districts with powerful Jharsuguda MLA, Naba Kishore Das and Sundergarh legislator, Jogesh Singh joining the ruling Biju Janata Dal.
Under the circumstances one wonders if Rahul Gandhi and the state leadership that enjoys his blessings would be able to keep the party together.