The role of women in the Madhya Pradesh State Assembly elections would be crucial in deciding the fate of Bhartiya Janta Party led by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan. Preparations are in full swing in the state as voting is due on 29th November ’18. Usually considered to be a ‘practice run’ for the 2019 General Elections, these elections will give a clear picture of Shivraj Singh Chauhan’s popularity in the state and will decide whether the state wants to see ‘mama’ in a fourth tenure or not.
While the opinion polls suggest a comfortable victory for BJP, Chauhan doesn’t want to leave any stone unturned. In the month of August, during the time of Rakshabandhan, in an emotional open letter to 2 crore women in the state whom he refers to as ‘sisters’, Chauhan urged them to vote for him in the upcoming elections.
In the letter he sought for another five year run as he promised to provide women with ‘safety and prosperity’. He wrote, “my decisions were based on report of gender biased society. I decided to make the women and girl child self-dependent.” He also talked about his government’s decision of providing 50% reservation to women in local bodies and the Department of Education besides 33% of reservation in government jobs. He credited his rise up to the status of Chief Minister only because of his sisters’ blessings.
Talking about the female voter turnout in Madhya Pradesh, according to DownToEarth report since 1998 till 2013 there has always been a higher escalation in the female voter turnout percentage. From 53.53% in 1998 the female voter percentage rose to 70.1% in 2013.
Now let’s try to understand why women voters are so important as far as outcomes are considered:
- Women are generally more devout Hindus than men and are now demographically identifying themselves with the NaMo-led BJP more than ever before.
- From Sushma Swaraj to Nirmala Sitharaman to Smriti Irani to Vasundhara Raje, BJP is the one political party that has maximum articulate women symbolizing the party’s culture of gender inclusivity.
- The Modi govt. policy impact has been highly positive on women whether it’s Jan Dhan Yojana, free LPG cooking gas provided by the Ujjwala Yojana, doubling the maternity leave, empowering entrepreneurship through Mudra Yojana, Beti Padhao Beti Bachao, etc.
Now let us have a quick look at some important women centric decisions taken by Shivraj Singh Government:
- Mukhya Mantri Kanya Vivah Yojna: The programme is being administered to provide financial assistance and utility gift items to the newly wed couples. The basic objective of this is to provide financial assistance to poor, needy, destitute families for marrying off their daughters/widows/divorcees. This assistance is given only in mass marriages with the condition that the girl must have attained the legally permissible age for marriage. Under this mass marriages are performed, which not only increase social harmony but also curb unnecessary expenditure on weddings. Another special feature of the scheme is that all the sections of society are benefited by this scheme.
- Ladli Laxmi Yojana: The scheme has now been reckoned in the entire country for its basic aim of laying down firm foundation of girls’ future through improvement in their educational and economic status and to bring about a positive change in social attitude towards birth of a girl. It has shown results and after its commencement in 2007 by CM Shivraj Singh Chauhan it has now been adopted by six additional states including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Goa.
- One Stop Center Scheme: The scheme has proved to be beneficial in providing support to women affected by violence, in private and public spaces, within the family, community and at the workplace. Women facing physical, sexual, emotional, psychological and economic abuse, irrespective of age, class, caste, education status, marital status, race and culture will be facilitated with support and redressal.
The objectives of the Scheme are:
- To provide integrated support and assistance to women affected by violence, both in private and public spaces under one roof.
- To facilitate immediate, emergency and non – emergency access to a range of services including medical, legal, psychological and counseling support under one roof to fight against any forms of violence against women.
4. Working Women Hostel Scheme: The scheme provides availability of safe and conveniently located accommodation for working women, with day care facility for their children, wherever possible, in urban, semi urban, or even rural areas where employment opportunity for women exist. While the projects assisted under this scheme are meant for working women, women under training for job may also be accommodated in such hostels.
5. Mukhyamantri Kalyani Sahayati Yojana: Under this scheme, government provides monthly pension of Rs. 300 to all the widows between the age group of 18 to 79 years. All older widows get Rs. 500 as monthly pension. In addition, govt. also provides Rs. 2 lakh for remarriage of widows. All widows are now referred to as “Kalyani”.
To conclude the aforesaid schemes laid out by Madhya Pradesh government, under the able leadership of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan seem all set to propel the BJP towards another emphatic victory in the state. It is now the time for Chauhan’s sisters’ to give their verdict!