Congress wakes up to ‘nari shakti’

Will employ services of women cadre to counter NCP campaign under Sule

Maharashtra Congress appears to have suddenly realised "nari shakti".

The party leadership has decided to use women cadre to strengthen vote base. It has decided to launch a year-long programme to reconnect with women who constitute 50% of voters.

A sustained campaign by alliance partner NCP across the 35 districts of the state to consolidate its women voters has woken up Congress.

Surpiya Sule, MP and daughter of party president and Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, is leading the NCP drive.

MPCC chief Manikrao Thakre and chief minister Prithviraj Chavan cite the nomination of Rajani Patil as the Congress candidate for a bypoll in the state as an example.

In the coming days, state Congress will employ services of all women elected members and office-bearers to effectively carry the party and government message to people.

Congress has always been at the forefront championing the cause of 33% reservation for women in Parliament and assemblies, but the state has not much to show for.

Priya Dutt is the lone Congresswoman from Maharashtra in Lok Sabha and it took the party almost 27 years to consider a woman candidate for Rajya Sabha from the state. In 1985, state Congress had sent Pratibha Patil to the Upper House.

Seeing the good response to the NCP women empowerment campaign, Congress is planning similar street shows. Minister for women and child welfare Varsha Gaikwad has been asked to play a proactive role.

NCP president Sharad Pawar is himself leading the party campaign for women welfare and empowerment. Last month, he attended a rally of women in Amravati district of Vidarbha.

NCP has been claiming, "Maharashtra was the first state to evolve and implement a comprehensive women policy in 1993-94. The decision was taken by chief minister Sharad Pawar, who was then in Congress."

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