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“I’m A Woman, Can Fight”: Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s Bid To Revive Congress – dot newz

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Priyanka Gandhi Vadra entered politics in 2019.

Gorakhpur:

At a recent election rally, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the scion of Nehru-Gandhi family that dominates the opposition Congress party, strode on stage and asked the crowd to repeat after her: “I’m a woman, I can fight.”

The slogan is at the heart of the party’s bid to revive its fortunes in Uttar Pradesh, that goes to the polls early next year, by winning over women voters who have long been marginalised but are starting to find a voice.

The Uttar Pradesh result will offer a clue as to whether the Congress, which dominated politics for decades, can mount a challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the next general election in 2024.

PM Modi came to power in 2014 on promises of economic growth and a strong, modern India, and secured a convincing re-election victory in 2019.

His rise has come as the 136-year-old Congress has been mired in decline, in part because of leadership turmoil.

Rahul Gandhi was unable to fire up voters and quit as Congress chief in July 2019 after a general election mauling.

The party is now led by their mother, Sonia Gandhi, as interim president, compounding a perception held by some that it is old-fashioned and overly reliant on the Gandhis.

With its secular legacy, the Congress portrays itself as an inclusive national party and it will be hoping an appeal to women led by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who only entered politics in 2019, will strike a chord as it presents an alternative to PM Modi’s hardline Hindu agenda.

A spate of violence against women has alarmed voters across India, particularly in Uttar Pradesh, which according to government data faces the highest number of gender crimes in the country, and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra promised women change.

“I want to tell the women that I will fight for them, the Congress party will fight for them,” Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said on Sunday to cheers in the Gorakhpur stronghold of the state’s chief minister, Yogi Adityanath.

In Uttar Pradesh, the well-organised BJP has been criticised for its handling of violence against women as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. It is also facing protests by farmers opposed to PM Modi’s liberalisation of agriculture.

An unusually high proportion of women attended the Gorakhpur rally – about a quarter of the estimated 40,000 people – suggesting the Congress message may be getting through.

“People, especially women, have started looking at Congress with hope, that the party will stand with women and become their voice,” said Sunita Mishra, 40, a party worker at the rally.

Voters had welcomed a Congress pledge to field women in 40% of the state’s 403 assembly constituencies, said Ms Mishra, helping her sign up 50 women as party cadre in the past few days.

The party has also promised electric scooters and smartphones to female students, free rides on government buses to all women, three free cooking-gas cylinders per family a year, and gender-based job reservations.

‘Listening To Sycophants’

But the Congress in Uttar Pradesh is suffering from a series of internal problems – mirroring its woes at the national level – with disenchantment in the rank-and-file and resignations of senior members as Priyanka Gandhi Vadra tries to stamp her authority, current and former party officials said in interviews.

“The state leadership is listening only to sycophants and the number of such people has increased in the party in the last two years,” said Rana Rahul Singh, a former Congress assembly candidate from Gorakhpur who recently quit the party.

“Grassroots workers in Congress are being neglected.”

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s team did not respond to an interview request from Reuters but party spokeswoman Supriya Shrinate said reorganisation was underway.

“Changes are uneasy but changes are good,” Ms Shrinate said. “In the longer run, these changes are going to work.”

A recent survey by polling agency CVoter projected that the BJP would easily win the state election with more than 240 of its 403 seats, with Congress likely finishing a distant fourth with just three to seven seats.

In the last state election in 2017, which Congress fought in a coalition, it won only seven of 114 seats it contested, while the BJP won 312.

The proportion of women voters across India has steadily increased and some states now have more women casting votes than men, said Praveen Rai of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies think-tank in New Delhi.

“Whether it converts into more seats or not is a little difficult to predict,” Mr Rai said about Congress’s focus on women. “But I think this is the right strategy for the party to make a comeback and create some political space for itself.”

At the Gorakhpur rally, district Congress president Nirmala Paswan said she had hope in Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

“A lot of women are approaching us to join the party,” she said. “Change is coming and women are going to bring it.”



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China Poses Significant Challenge To India’s Strategic Goals: Air Chief – dot newz

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Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari said the Indian Air Force needs to be rapidly modernized. (File)

New Delhi:

Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari said that China poses a significant long term challenge to India’s strategic goals. He said it should be made clear to the world that today’s India has the capability and will to respond at a level that the nation deems appropriate.

“China poses a significant and long-term challenge to India’s strategic goals. Both People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and Pakistan Air Force (PAF) have enhanced their military capabilities in equipment and infrastructure. The Indian Air Force (IAF) needs to be rapidly modernized, expand its fleet and improve indigenous manufacturing capabilities,” the IAF chief said at a seminar conducted by the Centre for Air Power Studies.

The IAF needs to be rapidly modernized, expand its fleet and improve indigenous manufacturing capabilities, he urged.

The IAF chief said that China’s hegemonic and entrapping policies can provide opportunities for India to leverage in trade and military domains.

He also asserted that India has demonstrated its capabilities during a standoff on the northern border while simultaneously handling the national COVID-19 response.

“In the future, we could be attacked from all fronts, starting from economic strangulation to diplomatic isolation and military stand-offs to information blackouts, in the form of attack by a distributed denial of services. We will need to prepare for the full spectrum,” the Air Force chief cautioned.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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Gen Rawat Was On “Very Safe” Mi-17V-5, Crash Confounds Experts – dot newz

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India owns a fairly large fleet of Mi-17V-5 helicopters that are often used to ferry VIPs.

New Delhi:

The Mi-17V-5 helicopters are extremely reliable and are the workhorses of the Air Force, several former army officers told NDTV after one of these choppers crashed in Tamil Nadu, with Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat and several members of his family on board. The crash perplexed the experts, who said the flight from Sulur to Wellington did not involve complications.

Four people are dead and another four who survived, have been taken to a hospital. It is believed that there were 14 people on board, including the chopper’s crew and passengers.

The Indian Air Force has already ordered an inquiry into the crash.

The Mi-17V-5 is the latest twin-engine iteration of the Russian-made Mi-17 transport helicopter and is used regularly for high-altitude operations. One of the most advanced military transports that can be used in any topography and weather, it is one of the most powerful choppers used by Indian defence forces.

India owns a fairly large fleet of these helicopters that were purchased and inducted between 2013 and 2018.

Most experts NDTV spoke to described it as a “very reliable, safe, stable, and large” helicopter that is also used to ferry VIPs, including the President and the Prime Minister.

According to information available on the website of Rosoboronexport — the Russian arms supplier — the chopper is designed to “carry personnel, cargo and equipment inside the cargo cabin or on an external sling, drop tactical air assault forces and reconnaissance and sabotage groups, destroy ground targets and carry the wounded”.

“Its armament system includes unguided rockets (up to 80 S-8 80mm unguided aerial rockets), cannons (suspended pods with 23mm cannons and 250 rounds each) and small arms,” the website says.



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‘Smartphones, Scootys, Security’: Congress’ “Women’s Manifesto” Before UP Polls – dot newz

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UP will vote for a new government in 2022, with the Congress challenging the BJP

Lucknow:

Girls studying in Classes 10 to 12 in Uttar Pradesh schools will get smartphones and female graduate students will get scooters, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said Wednesday as part of a six-point “woman’s manifesto” ahead of an Assembly election in the state in a few months.

Ms Gandhi Vadra – who is leading her party’s campaign in the poll-bound state – read out a number of measures and schemes the Congress plans to implement should it win next year’s election, and demanded that all parties understand “the fact women have to bear with exploitation”.

Promises made by Ms Gandhi Vadra today include the offer of three free LPG cylinders for women – a significant offer given the skyrocketing prices of gas cylinders in the country, something for which the BJP (in power in UP and at the centre) has been severely criticised.

“I hope this women’s manifesto will put pressure on other political parties to also speak about similar issues. We want to release a women-specific manifesto so women have freedom of choice… I have seen that women ka bahut shoshan hota hai but they are fighting for their rights,” she said.

Ms Gandhi Vadra also highlighted the Congress’ promise to reserve 40 per cent of its election tickets for women; “this is not only on paper,” she said, giving late Indira Gandhi – India’s first woman prime minister – as an example of the Congress’ contribution to women in politics.

“Our attempt is to bring real women’s empowerment… at the grassroots level. Women’s empowerment is usually spoken about before elections and then mostly restricted to being on paper. We want to actually empower women on ground,” the Congress leader said.

“Parliament and legislative assemblies have an average of 14 per cent participation by women representatives. That needs to increase… we want that 40 per cent of all seats should be represented by women. This will increase their participation in policy-making,” she stressed.

Apart from smartphones, scooters and free gas cylinders, Ms Gandhi Vadra said women senior citizens and widows would get a monthly pension of Rs 1,000, and every new-born girl will get a fixed deposit in her name. All households with women will get a free internet connection.

Ms Gandhi Vadra also flagged the issue of women’s security – a serious subject given the worrying number of violent crimes against women reported from Uttar Pradesh.

“We want 25 per cent of the police to consist of women. All chowkis to have at least one woman officer and constable,” she said, reminding reporters that many crimes were unreported as the police is reluctant to file a case. “More women in the force will help the cause of women,” she said.

The Congress also promised Rs 10 lakh medical cover for women “for any kind of illness or disease”.

UP votes for a new government in a few months time.

The Assembly election here – for 403 seats – is widely seen as an indicator of how the ruling BJP might fare in the 2024 general election, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party will seek a third consecutive term in power.



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