Women matter. Women voters more so. Ahead of the upcoming election season, all parties are wooing them. As per the Election Commission data, in 2019, women voters at 67.18% outstripped men at 67.01%.
Results from Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Bihar showed that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had scored on the strength of women voters. For example, in parts of UP, the triple talaq issue worked among Muslim women who voted for the BJP.
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It comes as no surprise that sops for women offered by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh clicked for the Congress. In fact, with the rollout of the Gruha Lakshmi scheme in Karnataka, where each woman would get Rs 2,000, Rahul Gandhi paid tribute to women power.
In the upcoming polls in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, both the BJP and Congress are in a race to announce more sops for women.
For example, in Madhya Pradesh, Congress chief and CM aspirant Kamal Nath launched the ‘Nari Samman Yojana’, which includes Rs 1,500 for women and subsidised LPG cylinder. Not to be outdone, CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, too, announced schemes for women. Called the Ladli Behna, subsidised LPG and money into bank accounts are some of the sops announced.
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Same with Rajasthan, where CM Ashok Gehlot has already announced LPG cylinders at Rs 500.
Back in the Centre, given the above steps taken, the government, in a major boost, announced 75 lakh new gas connections and slash in LPG cylinder prices.
Petroleum and natural gas minister Hardeep Singh Puri told News18: “This is the PM’s rakhi gift for women. There is no political notice behind it, but we think this will benefit women. When women are happy, the entire household is happy.”
HAPPY WOMEN, HAPPY HOUSEHOLD
Happy women will make the parties happy, especially the BJP and Congress, for whom the women vote is critical. The Congress has always laid claim to being a party for women. With Sonia Gandhi at the helm for 19 years and also pushing the women’s reservation bill, the Congress says the BJP is misogynist, while Rahul Gandhi has insisted in meetings that more tickets should be given to women in polls.
The BJP has openly wooed women voters. As women scale the peak, entering various fields, the BJP claims this was possible as it alone has ensured ease of living for women. Beti Bachao Beti Padhao to Ladli Yojana, the BJP hopes to strike another chord with the LPG cylinder slash.
PM Narendra Modi had in the past said that the Ujjwala scheme ensures good health for women as they no longer have to cook on firewood or coal which emits smoke injurious to their lungs. In fact, the Ujjwala scheme has done for the BJP what the MNREGA had done for the Congress before 2019.
रक्षाबंधन का पर्व अपने परिवार में खुशियां बढ़ाने का दिन होता है। गैस की कीमतों में कटौती होने से मेरे परिवार की बहनों की सहूलियत बढ़ेगी और उनका जीवन और आसान होगा। मेरी हर बहन खुश रहे, स्वस्थ रहे, सुखी रहे, ईश्वर से यही कामना है। https://t.co/RwM1a1GIKd— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 29, 2023
In the last UP polls, this scheme, which provided free cooking gas connections to around 40 million poor families, was the trump card.
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The BJP hopes to repeat this now in 2024. The Opposition’s INDIA front has already claimed credit for it, saying their pressure forced the government to slash LPG cylinder prices.
The BJP is facing competition from the Congress in the upcoming polls over cylinder prices and plans to include it in the common agenda of the INDIA front for 2024.
Both hope that subsided cylinders will be the pipeline to women voters.