Congress women's chief: PM Narendra Modi needs to walk the talk

Updated: Nov 20, 2018, 16:00 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

Amidst rising political temperature, Congress women's chief slams Narendra Modi's irresponsible narrative, claims party will sweep Chhattisgarh

Sushmita Dev at a Bandra club. Pic/Atul Kamble
Sushmita Dev at a Bandra club. Pic/Atul Kamble

Sushmita Dev, president of the All India Mahila Congress, was passing through Mumbai post campaigning for the second phase of the assembly elections in Chhattisgarh. The elections took place yesterday. Dev was at a Bandra East club, where she spoke out, taking swipes at BJP's claims and said the future Govt of India will be one for youth and women.

You were in Chhattisgarh recently…
I visited the adivasi (Bastar) belt, and I think Congress is going to sweep Chhattisgarh - the party looks set to win at least eight seats, might even get up to 11. People are very unhappy with the BJP there. A large number of adivasi women have gone missing through these years; they have been trafficked and cannot be traced. This particular issue has caused greatly disillusioned people with the BJP government.

PM Narendra Modi and Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar. Pic/PTI
PM Narendra Modi and Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar. Pic/PTI 

But the Maoist problem continues to simmer...
If anybody knows about this deadly problem, it is us (the Congress). In 2013, the entire Congress leadership was wiped out in Chhattisgarh in a Naxal attack. We need to engage with certain sections of the people. Violence is never the solution. We need to focus on their (Maoists') development.

What do you say to the term urban Naxal?
You need to ask this to the people who have coined the term. The PM picks his narrative with great irresponsibility. What or who is an urban naxal? Voices of the dissenters are being silenced. National security is priority, but space for dissent cannot shrink.

Stats show rising numbers of crime against women…
I think it is a fallacy to see this in terms of numbers. There needs to be a paradigm shift in the male mindset. No government alone can ensure that. Having said that, the recent remark by Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar, that women in relationships with men scream rape when the relationship sours, is disgraceful. The current government is also perpetuating a mindset. When the PM touts that he is giving free cooking gas connection under the Ujjwala Yojana welfare scheme and doing the poor women a huge service, besides giving them respect and dignity, he is also perpetuating a stereotype that a woman's place belongs in the kitchen.

But Modi had the courage to say in an I-Day address that rape is shaming the nation…
Father of the Unnao rape survivor was killed after he complained about the incident, and the accused is a BJP MLA, who has not been suspended from the party. It is all very well talking about sexual assaults from the Red Fort, but the PM needs to walk the talk.

The ongoing assembly elections are a bout before the big one, in 2019…
Watch out for the Congress! Rahul Gandhi has said the next government will be for youth and women. This means he has recognised the strength, significance and power of contribution of this demographic. The government will address their aspirations.

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