Bhubaneswar: Slamming Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘double engine’ formula at his recent speech in the State, BJD President and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said empowering women is the real ‘double engine’.
“A nation that doesn’t give effective representation to women in its highest decision-making forum is running on a single engine,” said Naveen while addressing the media here this afternoon.
He said: “In my view if India has to hit the highway of growth and compete with the likes of US and China, it has to transform its political landscape by empowering women. This is the real double engine the country needs, to bring about growth with equity and justice.”
Referring the examples of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s compassionate response to the issue of migrants, the CM said, “If politics can estimate the value of the country, we should also give a chance to the women of the country.”
“These leaders redefined power. Their leadership was bold… It was calm…. It was compassionate. These leaders are examples of what women can bring to politics. If politics is the exercise of power, women have a more humane touch in its expression,” Naveen pointed out.
If politics can decide a Nation’s values, is it prudent to have half our population not actively involved in decision making, the CM asked.
He said: “Biju Babu was one of the pioneers in Women’s’ empowerment. He introduced 33% reservation for women in the PRIs. We increased it to 50%.”
“Initially there was a lot of criticism with most people saying that husbands and fathers will actually run the show. Perhaps it was partially true, during the transition. Today, we have more than sixty thousand women in Odisha as Ward Members, Sarpanchs, Block Samiti, Zilla Parishad Members and Presidents doing remarkable jobs,” Naveen added.
“If Odisha has had a huge improvement in the socio economic indicators like IMR, MMR, etc. the credit goes to these grass root women leaders and the 70 lakh strong Mission Shakti SHG movement of the State. If we had adequate representation of women, our approach to a multitude of issues would have been different.”
“Questions of war, peace and terrorism would be differently decided. Our laws on rape, sexual assault and dowry will be more effectively implemented. Education and health would be given much more focus. Empowering household incomes will be as much a priority as empowering corporate incomes,” he said.
Recalling his party’s achievements, Naveen said: “One of my most satisfying moments as President of BJD was when the party, in a first of its kind decision of any political party in the country—- decided to provide 33% reservation for women candidates to the Lok Sabha.”
“Both the national parties in their manifestos have repeatedly spoken about women’s’ empowerment, but somewhere when it comes to walking the talk – there is a deafening silence,” he alleged.
”BJD has done its bit to break this silence. And, I’m sure the people of Odisha will ensure that the voice of our seven women candidates is heard in the hallowed halls of Parliament and I am hopeful that the movement that has started from Odisha will be followed by our national parties,” Naveen added confidently.