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Opinion

Cong plans a massive push to win back women voters

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Congress, after its setback in Bihar’s recent assembly elections, is planning a massive outreach to win back women voters in the upcoming state elections, party officials familiar with the plan said.

The party plans to appoint five women workers to each polling place, at least in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam, Kerala and Puducherry, to ensure voter support. Elections will be held in the states and in Puducherry, a Union territory, before May.

“Five workers will be appointed at the booth level who will be responsible for translating the party’s broader narrative on women’s empowerment at the grassroots level,” Mahila Head of Congress Sushmita Dev told the Hindustan Times.

The push comes two days after Mahila’s congressional national executive met to discuss and exchange ideas to win the support of voters. The meeting was attended by the general secretary (organization) KC Venugopal. On Friday, a report will be presented to top party leaders, including Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, capturing the highlights of the discussion and the Congress extension plan.

“All state party presidents have been asked to offer their suggestions,” said a party official on condition of anonymity. “Just as Time Castes and Tribes are treated as a separate vote bank, so should women.”

The need to recognize women as a separate electoral force was also pointed out at the Mahila Congress national executive meeting. Topics such as domestic violence against women and the difficulties they were experiencing during the pandemic were discussed. Under Congressional Garima campaign, 2.5 million sanitary pads have been distributed during the pandemic.

A head of the state Congress said, on condition of anonymity, that the party was in the process of gathering suggestions. “There are three areas of focus for us, women, social media and outreach at the bloc level,” said the state president. “We have already appointed 280 bloc-level observers who are in the process of identifying women who are actively involved in politics to play a key role in outreach.”

The head of the state party added that the party would like to focus especially on housewives, semi-urban and rural women. “The percentage of working women is relatively low. We want more women from other demographic groups to be actively involved in politics. “

The party performed poorly in the Bihar assembly elections in October-November, in which it won only 19 of the 70 seats it contested. The Hindustan Times reported on Nov. 11 how women voters influenced party performance by contrasting the number of voters and voter turnout figures, which are available by gender.

The data showed a massive 19 percentage point advantage in the National Democratic Alliance’s strike rate (seats won as a proportion of those contested) in constituencies where the number of women who voted outnumbered male voters. In fact, the higher the proportion of women voters in a constituency, the better the NDA performs.

The NDA won 62% of the seats where women voted the most compared to just 24% of the seats where they were the least.

The first party official quoted above, however, said an analysis showed that more women than men had voted for the party in Congress. “Congress may not have received the most votes, but a general analysis shows that more women than men voted for the party. This makes them an integral part of our scope. ”

The official added that a national narrative that flows from above to reclaim her legacy of women’s empowerment was the necessity of the party moment. “Look at Prime Minister Narendra Modi. After they won Bihar, he said that he had received the silent vote. He addressed the women directly. The problem with Congress is that its top leaders are not talking directly to women. “

Rakesh Sinha of the Bharatiya Janata Party said Congress had lost its ideological glamor and organizational caliber. “Therefore, whatever he says or whatever resolution he passes becomes ritualistic and makes no sense,” Sinha said. “Both rural and urban women experienced the worst of the congressional regime. It is the Modi government that gave them power and showed genuine concern for them. Therefore, Congress would continue to lose the support of women. “

Experts are also skeptical about the success of the party’s women’s outreach. Sanjay Kumar, director of the Center for the Study of Developing Societies, said disclosure can only help the party in states where it is considered a serious competitor.

“In states like West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, Congress is not an actor, so the disclosure is unlikely to have an impact,” Kumar said. “In Assam, the flaws are different, like the linguistic divide or the Hindu-Muslim polarization. The narrative is different. The only state where it can have an impact is Kerala. ”

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