In a bid to woo women voters, Karnataka’s Congress unit announced the “Gruha Lakshmi” scheme for every woman head of a household in the state.
This is the second promise made by the national party ahead of the 2023 Assembly polls.
In the massive convention for women, AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra announced a second poll promise of ₹2,000 a month to every woman of the family under the “Gruha Lakshmi” scheme.
She was speaking at the “Na Nayaki” (I am a woman leader) convention at the Palace Grounds in Bengaluru on Monday, 16 January.
Around 1.5 crore women would benefit from this scheme, claimed the party.
Sharing the burden of women
Addressing a gathering, Priyanka said: “If the Congress is voted to power, it will implement the Gruha Lakshmi scheme — an unconditional universal basic income. Under this scheme, ₹24,000 will be directly transferred to the bank accounts of the beneficiaries every year.”
She added: “This scheme is an attempt of the Congress to share the burden of the exorbitant LPG prices and the costly daily expenses that a woman has to bear on a daily basis.”
Stressing on women’s empowerment, Priyanka said: “The party wants every woman of the state to be empowered and capable of standing on her own feet and also taking care of her children. The party aims to provide financial independence to each woman of the state.”
It may be noted that the Congress made a similar poll promises in the run-up to the 2022 Punjab Assembly elections, which were held in February.
However, the party failed to attract women’s votes: It managed to win only 18 out of the 117 Assembly seats in the states.
‘Time for change’
Urging confidence from women, she said: “I have learnt a very important thing: No matter what happens in your life, no matter how big the tragedy you face, how deep your struggles are, whether they are at home or outside, you have the capacity to fight for yourself.”
She added: “I know one thing, it is that you and only you who can make a change. So, I want to ask you, my sisters, is it not time for you to start making a change? You want an education, employment, a bright future for yourself, your children, and the freedom to make choices for yourself. Who is going to give it to you?”
She also said: “You are not recognising how powerful you are. You are half of this country’s population. In every single household, there are as many women as men. In every village or town, you are strong. But you must recognise your courage and strength.”
She reiterated a party promise when she said: “The party will announce a separate manifesto for women.”
Priyanka takes on BJP
Addressing the convention, Priyanka lashed out at the Basavaraj Bommai government on reported issues like rampant corruption, scandals, and irregularities.
“I am told that the situation in Karnataka is very shameful. I am told that your ministers are taking 40 percent commission on jobs. Around ₹1.5 lakh crore of public money has been looted in Karnataka,” alleged Priyanka.
“If any development work has to be taken place in Bengaluru for ₹8,000 crore, ₹3,200 crore of it is going into commission. Irregularities have been reported even in a police sub-inspector recruitment scam. Nothing moves without paying bribes in Karnataka,” she added.
“I don’t want to criticise the BJP just because I represent the Opposition. In the last few years the BJP has been in power, has your life become better? Have prices gone down? Has anything in your life become more positive and happier? They have not,” said Priyanka.
“The elections are coming in a few months. I will ask all the women to look at the last few years, evaluate your own life, and think about whether your lives have become better/ Did you get the facilities you need? Did the people in power care about your problems? Has your life become easier or more difficult?” she asked the women gathered for the event.
BJP, Congress trade barbs
Taking a dig at the convention, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai told reporters: “The Congress general secretary has reached a level where she herself has to announce that she is a leader.”
He added: “Since there are no women rallying behind her, Priyanka herself had to announce ‘Na Nayaki’. The women of Karnataka are not ready to accept her call. Let the event take place properly, but I fail to understand the title of the programme.”
On the Congress proposing a women-specific budget if it was voted to power in the coming polls, Bommai said: “The party will never get a chance for it. The Congress leaders know that they will not come to power, so they are giving all kinds of assurances.”
Responding to this, Karnataka Congress in-charge Randeep Surjewala said: “Basavaraj Bommai is a panic-stricken man. He is running helter-skelter. He finds no answers to the welfare-oriented people-friendly guarantees of the Congress.”
He added: “Bommai, please go and tell your masters in Delhi that they should emulate the Karnataka Congress’ guarantees. He has utterly failed, and is the most incompetent chief minister Karnataka has ever witnessed.”