The anointment of Supriya Sule as a mass leader in the NCP happened in Aurangabad yesterday, at a rally marked by a massive show of woman power that promised to keep the Congress as well as NCP ministers on their toes in the days to come.
For the Congress, Sule’s new-found vote bank — women in the age group of 18 to 25 years — should be a cause for worry at a time when ally NCP is making intense efforts to spread its wings in the state.
Young women were present in large numbers to support NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s daughter at the first state-level rally of the Rashtrawadi Yuvati Congress (RYC), a party wing for young women headed by Sule.
And the demands made during the rally by Sule came as a serious warning to party ministers.
Addressing over 60,000 young women, Sule gave a three-month deadline to Home Minister R R Patil to take effective steps to root out sexual harassment.
“Tell your policemen that within three months they should start taking action against sexual harassment,” Sule told Patil.
Before this, she asked the audience how and in what manner were they subjected to sexual harassment. Many of the young women present said they felt uncomfortable when boys played film songs, especially from the movies of Emraan Hashmi. “At least 90 per cent of the girls face lewd remarks from males,” Sule said, giving out a clear warning that if the police failed to take effective steps, the offenders would get a thrashing from the RYC.
“If you curb sexual harassment, it will be a Diwali gift to these girls,” the Baramati MP said amid loud cheering.
During the question-answer session after the rally, Patil faced many questions from the participants on the dowry system and police failure to initiate action.
Sule asked the audience whether the ban against gutkha was being implemented in an effective manner, and the answers were in the negative.
“If gutkha is still available, we will start a big agitation under the banner of RYC,” Supriya said, giving the ministers six months to implement the ban effectively.
A few youngsters who got an opportunity to speak before Sule’s father Pawar and other party bigwigs gave the leaders some anxious moments. They spoke against the reservation system and corruption in the appointment of teachers, demanded welfare schemes for girls from poor families, raised the issue of inadequate toilet facilities for females at public places, and asked about efforts to curb the ostentatious display of wealth in lavish weddings.
NCP chief and Union Agriculture Minister remarked that the way youngsters spoke could cause discomfort among NCP ministers and legislators.
The impressive show of strength at the rally is likely to send some wake-up signals to the Congress, as the RYC event in Aurangabad was aimed at creating a new vote bank of young women for the NCP, one that remains untapped by any political party so far.
The NCP left no stone unturned to make the rally a grand success. Almost all NCP ministers and legislators made it to the rally.