BENGALURU: Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today that India is moving forward from women development to women-led development, and "women first" is the mantra of his government and the BJP.
Reaching out to women ahead of the May 12 Assembly elections in Karnataka, Modi asked them to help the BJP win by focusing on polling booths.
"Today, the country is moving forward from women development to women-led development," Modi said, interacting with Karnataka BJP Mahila Morcha workers through the 'NarendraModi App', his third such outreach aimed at galvanising the party machinery for the D-day.
He had earlier interacted with BJP office-bearers and candidates, and state farmers' wing leaders.
"We have such a mantra for country's development, our party also believes in this mantra," he said.
"Mahila shakti" (woman power), Modi said, was important in the BJP's scheme of things.
"For us, whether it is the organisation or the government, or framing of programmes, it is women first," he added.
Noting that capable women hold important portfolios in his cabinet, Modi pointed at two group photos of the SCO summit in China where External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman were the only women.
"Both of them have connection with Karnataka," he said. Sitaraman is a Rajya Sabha member from Karnataka, while Swaraj had contested the 1999 Lok Sabha polls from Ballari against Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, which the latter won.
Lauding women BJP workers, Modi asked them to focus on winning at the polling booth level.
"We have to win the state election and we will win. We have to win Assembly constituency we will win. But as always I urge karyakartas (workers)...for me the most important thing is winning polling booths."
Modi said if a party ensures it wins at the polling booth level, no power can defeat it.
"Where is the victory? It is in polling booths, rest is all its effects. We have to win polling booths. When we have to win polling booths, we will have to go to homes, highlight the false promises and misdeeds of Karnataka's Congress government," he said.
Modi asked the Mahila Morcha workers to appeal to everyone to join India's journey to progress.
The prime minister said Mahila Morcha activists are the most effective in doing that as they do it by building trust.
Responding to a question about the Congress spreading "falsehood" despite his government's work for empowering women, Modi said, "If they don't spread lies, how will their vehicle run? Spreading lies is the only thing left for them to do, and because of it they are losing trust...people are disappointed."
He said though several schemes were launched for welfare of women in the past they lacked direction and did not take into account their basic and small needs.
The prime minister enlisted various initiatives of his government for women empowerment, health care and maternity leave requirements.
While responding to a question by a woman BJP activist about atrocities on women and ways to check them, he said a blend of family values, culture, functioning of police and authorities, and prompt justice can play an important role in checking such incidents.
The prime minister also stressed on the need for instilling the "fear of law". He said provisions of the IPC, CRPC and POCSO were made more stringent by his government to instill that fear.
"Those committing rape of innocent children can be hanged. Necessary steps have been taken for time-bound investigation and fast track courts have been set up for such crimes," he added.
Terming female infanticide "perversity of the society", he spoke about 'Beti Bachao, Bati Padhao' programme of his government and the positive developments it has brought about in areas with poor gender ratio.
Modi said whether they are homemaker, job seeker or job creator, his government stands by women.He said women should play an equal role in social, economic and other fields of life.
The prime minister said whether it is the Olympics or Commonwealth games, Indian women made the country proud. They are also excelling in the defence forces and becoming entrepreneurs.
In a first, his government has decided that women will be in a combat role in the Army, he said, adding a proposal for giving them 33 per cent reservation in police force in the Union Territories is also under consideration.
Modi said his government and the BJP are "completely and comprehensively" committed to "naari shakti" (women power), a significant part of the New India vision.