Empowerment of women will be the key plank of Congress’ pledge in poll-bound Gujarat, where the party has remained out of power for over two decades.
Congress leaders ET spoke with said the party has decided to keep women at the centre of its strategy in the state with promises of free education for girls up to post-graduation, a home in the name of lady of the house, free institutional deliveries and other healthcare benefits even in private hospitals for poor women.
The move comes after internal surveys showed that women voters could prove to be the swing factor in the state where the Congress last formed a government 24 years ago.
“The entire manifesto is being fashioned around happiness of a family as a unit,” said a senior Congress leader, who did not wish to be named. “What would a woman want for her family to make a dignified living – good education, affordable healthcare, proper nutrition, one job, minimum salary and own home.
We have put thought into this and are framing our manifesto with promises to address price rise, unemployment, affirmative action, housing and education.”
The poll promises would touch upon sectors including education, healthcare, housing, employment and nutrition.
These would include reduction in fee in all colleges and all study courses, more seats and new professional courses in government colleges, one lakh more scholarships (of Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000) for the economically backward and meritorious students, and a home registered in the name of the woman of the family.
The surveys, according to party members, showed that while male voters are increasingly becoming inclined towards the Congress, women still favour the BJP. The trend is the same amongst Muslim women voters. In some constituencies, 30-35% of women voters are with the BJP and the percentage goes as high as 50% in some urban seats.
Source: Economic Times