Meets 250 women to seek inputs for election manifesto

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi met 250 women from various fields in Bhopal at Minto Hall on Monday to seek inputs for the party’s Lok Sabha election manifesto. In the two-hour interaction, Mr. Gandhi made it clear that reservation for women is the foremost priority.

In an indirect jibe on the BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi, Mr. Rahul said, “We talk a lot about becoming a superpower in the world but till the women of our country do not feel comfortable and secured, our country cannot become a superpower. And to tell you the truth, we don't want such a superpower status, where women are not empowered.”

Several leaders, including Sampat Pal of Bundelkhand’s Gulabi Gang, TV star Kunickaa Lall, Assistant Solicitor-General of India Fouzia Mirza, legal activist Flavia Agnes, Indore’s visually impaired activist Fatima Jamali in addition to Congress leader Renuka Chowdhury, Krishna Tirath, Mamta Sharma and Shoba Oza attended.

Transgender activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi praised Mr. Gandhi for opposing Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalises gay sex. “It’s the first time a party has shown such courage to call us for views on the manifesto. Our main concerns are the rights to education, shelter and employment. India needs a law to prevent discrimination against sexual minorities,” she said.

Ms. Agnes said that in addition to financial aid, rape victims need support persons to guide them through the legal process. She added that domestic violence cases need to be tracked to include those who have gone to hospital and shelter homes. Only then will we know how many women face domestic violence.

All India Mahila Congress president Shobha Oza said, "It is symbolic that we are conducting this session in Madhya Pradesh, which ranks the highest in terms of atrocities against women. There should be zero tolerance towards atrocities against women."

Mr. Gandhi said, “All you must have felt that you're being pulled back at some point of time. We must remove that feeling in India... I have learnt a lot from my grandmother and mother, but I have also learnt a lot from women in my constituency Amethi. One thing I have learnt is if you empower women, they can do anything.”

“There is a big battle ahead; we must fight for women’s empowerment. One important battle we have to win is the women’s reservation Bill in Parliament. We're not going to let go of it,” he added.

Later he met delegates of the Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee, candidates of the 230 Assembly seats and the 467 block Congress committees of the State.

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