BJP’s Bengal manifesto: plenty for women to win over Mamata Banerjee’s dedicated voters

Free transport, free education, Rs 2 lakh grant on turning 18, and more.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in its election manifesto for West Bengal has focused on an area that has been Mamata Banerjee’s dedicated voters for the past 10 years and more – women.

In its manifesto released by Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Kolkata on Sunday, titled “Shonar Bangla Sankapl Patra”, there is a separate section on “Women”, apart from 12 other areas including infrastructure, welfare, tourism, culture, Kolkata and so on.

The Trinamool Congress and Mamata Banerjee, over the past few months, have repeatedly addressed the issue of women’s empowerment in public meetings and press conferences. They have compared the situation in Bengal with that of the BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh, with the latter reporting horrific cases of rape and atrocities on women in recent times. Will the BJP succeed in getting the votes of women with the promises made in its election manifesto?

Here’s what the BJP’s election manifesto for West Bengal promises:

*Every girl will get Rs 2 lakh on turning 18.

*Titled “Balika Alo”, the scheme mentions that girls will get Rs 3,000 in class VI, Rs 5,000 in class IX and Rs 7,000 in class XI. (In Mamata Banerjee government’s “Kanyashree” project, girls get Rs 25,000 on reaching 18 if they complete their studies in class XII, a programme that has won a United Nations award for reducing the number of female dropouts in schools, and reduced child marriage).

*33 per cent reservation for women in government jobs.

*Free education for all women from kindergarten to post graduate level.

*Free transport for all women.

*A bond worth Rs 50,000 to each backward classes family with the birth of a girl child, and fixed deposits of Rs 1 lakh for women in these groups. Titled Gharey Laxmi Yojana, it says that the women will get this benefit if they marry after they turn 18.

*Nine women battalions in West Bengal Police, three women’s battalion in the state’s Reserve Police force, separate help desks for women in every police station with women themselves in charge.

*Women’s self-help programs worth Rs 2,000 crore under Atmanirbhar Mahila project, Rs 20,000 loans provision for women from the government.

*Allowance for widows to increase to Rs 3,000 per month (from the present Rs 1,000), allowance for pregnant women to increase to Rs 9,000 (from the current Rs 5,000).

*50,000 sanitary napkin vending machines all across the state in schools, colleges and markets where these would be available at Re 1.

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