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Karnataka Elections: Something For All Women In Congress Manifesto

The Bhagya programmes will expand if the Siddaramaiah government retains office.

The Congress Party has had a long and enduring tryst with the state of Karnataka. One of the most memorable moments of the tryst includes former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her Chikmagalur-winning campaign: “Ek sherni, sau langur, Chikmagalur, chikmagalur”. Discarding the sau langur part, the bit about being a lioness remains true in the context of the Congress Party and its approach towards women and their empowerment.

Women are strong, courageous, determined and equal to men in all possible ways. The caveat: they are held back by patriarchal structures. The hindrance has never been their capability, but rather the structures that they are stuck in. The Congress Party has understood this on the national and the state level and has imbibed this in their policy approach. The Congress Party understands that policy must be well thought out and not a band-aid mechanism that eventually leaves a worse wound. We believe that women have endless capabilities and intervention is required to support them in overcoming those obstacles rather than giving out dole.

The Congress government in Karnataka, in the last five years, has focused on such interventions particularly through the Bhagya schemes. These include a spectrum of programmes that cover various aspects of day-to-day life. The schemes have a wide coverage of 4 crore people out of the total electorate of 5.2 crores.

The schemes include: Ksheera Bhagya (milk), Anna Bhagya (food), Krishi Bhagya (farming), Pashu Bhagya (cattle), Arogya Bhagya (health), Indira Vastra Bhagya (cloth), Anila Bhagya (LPG connection), Shaadi Bhagya, Cycle Bhagya, Laptop Bhagya and Text Book Bhagya.

The flagship programme, Anna Bhagya, makes rice and dal available to families below the poverty line (BPL); the anganwadi is at the centre of efforts to address challenges of hunger, low birth-weight and malnutrition — by focusing on the health of children and women. All children are entitled to eggs twice a week, and a glass of whole milk every day under the Motte Bhagya and Ksheera Bhagya schemes. The government claims that 8.3 lakh women have benefited from Mathru Poorna Scheme alone.

The Bhagya programme will expand if the Siddaramaiah government continues to stay in power. The vision for women in the state is to empower and to help women scale greater heights. The manifesto targets women at all stages of life. It includes a provision to provide free sanitary napkins in government colleges; free education for girls up to post-graduation; the Scooty Bhagya and the Mangalya Bhagya schemes to name a few.

The Siddaramaiah government is in stark opposition to the BJP government which believes that gender justice is about PR gimmicks and about policy that doesn’t need much deliberation.

Sushmita Dev is a Congress MP from Assam’s Silchar and the president of All India Mahila Congress. She tweets at @sushmitadevmp.

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