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Modi turns to woman power, takes potshots at Rahul
Gujarat CM flaunts state’s model, takes on Cong over women empowerment
Vibha Sharma/TNS

New Delhi, April 8
Four days after Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s much-publicised debut at the CII forum, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today used the parallel platform of FICCI to advocate women's empowerment, indulging in his favourite pursuit — selling brand Gujarat and taking potshots at the Congress and its ‘crown prince’.

Economic empowerment and equality for women were key themes of the interaction organised by the FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO). While at the SRCC function, Modi had concentrated on youth and their potential, his thrust today was empowering women to push growth and eradicating evils like female feoticide. In an all-out attempt to woo women, he talked about exemplary achievements of female entrepreneurs and their brands (Lijjat Pappad) from his state.

Then building on brand Gujarat, Modi talked of steps taken by his state to empower women --- stamp duty waiver if property was registered in the woman’s name and making mother’s name mandatory in school records.

All eyes and ears, however, were on how he would upstage Rahul in the run-up to 2014 General Election, especially after the Congress leader’s knight-on-the-white-horse comment at the CII function. And predictably enough, Modi did not disappoint.

Though the word wizard did not mention Rahul by name, he cleverly juxtaposed Kalavati Bandurkar (a Vidarbha widow who shot to fame when the Congress leader mentioned her plight in his speech in Parliament in 2009) with Jassuben (a Gujarati woman who made popular her brand of pizzas to take on an MNC pizza company) to take pot shots at him. “Before our friends from the media set off to Gujarat to find out if Jassuben is like Kalavati, I would like to tell them she died five years back. Her pizzas, however, still have a big market," Modi said, a dig most obviously aimed at Rahul.

Modi also took on Gujarat Governor Kamla Beniwal. While replying to a question on women reservation Bill, the Gujarat CM recalled that the Assembly had passed a Bill for reserving 50% seats for women in local bodies but it was yet to receive a green signal from Kamla Beniwal. “It is my misfortune that despite being a woman she has not given her assent,” Modi said-a remark that prompted instantaneous rebuttal from the Congress.

He also hit out at his chief political rival in Guajrat saying that since assuming office in 2001 all he had been able to manage was fill up many “pits” left behind by decades of the Congress rule. “So far, all I have done is fill up the pits,” he said, inviting laughter from the packed venue. “I have brought it to a level playing field now so just imagine how big those potholes were. Now the effort will be to build an impressive, grand Gujarat,” he said.

His comments were lapped up by the elite audience. Even though Modi did not speak about his prime ministerial ambition, there was loud clapping, and even whistling, when he was asked what he would do about women reservation Bill if he came to the Centre. Asked to reveal his weakness, the Gujarat CM described himself as an "ordinary man" having all the failings that an ordinary man has. “No human being is complete. I have all the shortcomings of an ordinary man but with the help of the sanskar (values) that I received I have been able to get rid of some of them. However, I have not reached the height where I can evaluate myself. It is for you all to do,” he said.

Modi’s answer to Rahul’s Kalavati: Jassuben

Modi cleverly juxtaposed Kalavati Bandurkar (a Vidarbha widow whose name was mentioned by Rahul in Parliament in 2009) with Jassuben (a Gujarati woman who made popular her brand of pizzas to take on an MNC pizza company) to take potshots at him





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