April 14, 2024

All Round Attack on Women! Defeat BJP!!

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THE 18th General Election in 2024 is a challenge before all secular democratic forces in the country, and at the same time an opportunity to dislodge the nightmarish regime of violence, fear, hunger and unemployment unleashed by the BJP-RSS government in the last ten years. It is time to recall the list of broken promises and to review the adverse impact of its policies on women and the larger economic, political, social damage done by this regime.

This is seen in the alarming threat to food security, the spectre of hunger and malnutrition, rising unemployment, back-breaking price rise, escalating communal and casteist attacks, and a shocking increase in violence and brutality against women and girl children. The BJP government has failed India’s women and it must be held accountable for its misrule.


The loss of employment and income has been accompanied by spiraling prices because of hikes in the prices of petrol, diesel and gas, and imposition of GST on food items by the Modi regime. The Modi government increased the excise duties on petrol by 250 per cent, and on diesel by 820 per cent. Instead of taxing the rich, it is taxing the poor, by imposing more such indirect taxes. In addition, it has diluted the Essential Commodities Act that allows hoarding and has weakened the Public Distribution System (PDS).

In the last ten years, the prices of food items have sky-rocketed: cereal prices have gone up by 24 per cent, wheat flour by 28 per cent, pulses by 20-30 per cent, groundnut oil by 42 per cent, mustard oil by 71 per cent, vanaspati by 112 per cent, sunflower and palm oil by 101-128 per cent, potatoes by 65 per cent, onions by 69 per cent and tomatoes by 115 per cent.

The Ujjwala cooking gas scheme has been a big fraud. Only one free connection was provided under this scheme. The next refill of the gas cylinder had to be purchased. Subsidies have been reduced almost to zero and the price of an LPG cylinder has risen from Rs 414 in 2014 to Rs 1200 in 2022 – by almost three times! Just before the assembly elections in 2023, the central government announced a Rs 200 rebate, bringing the price down to about Rs 1000. This is still two and a half times the 2014 price.


In 2014, India ranked 63 in the global hunger index and this position came down to 101 in 2021 and by 2023, India ranks 111 out of 125 countries. Reports of starvation deaths, particularly in the adivasi regions, began to be noticed from 2016 onwards.

Instead of taking steps to remedy this problem, the Modi government has systematically weakened the Public Distribution System (PDS). The number of Antyodaya cards have been decreased.  The linking of ration cards to Aadhaar has led to the cancellation of a large number of cards. More than 4 crore ration cards have been cancelled between 2013 and 2021.

The Modi government reduced the quantity of grains from 35 kg per family to 5 kg per person. During the pandemic, in the name of providing 80 crore people with free grains, it stopped the distribution of 5 kg of subsidised grains under the PDS system. The central government also stopped giving sufficient food grains to opposition-ruled state governments.

The ICDS and Midday Meal programmes are essential to tackling growing malnutrition. These schemes have been combined into the PM POSHAN programme and their central allocations have been severely cut by 40 per cent. Between 2016-2020, severe malnutrition in children between 0-5 years of age increased in 341 out of 707 districts in 36 states and union territories. Instances of anaemia in women between 15 and 49 years of age have grown by 4.1 per cent between 2016 and 2021. The NFSA mandates a maternity benefit of Rs 6000 to pregnant women for their nutrition. But the government has restricted this to the first child.


Women’s work participation rate is today the lowest in the country since independence. According to the NSSO, in 2017-18, around 40 lakh women were pushed out of work. The CMIE data shows that by 2022, 8.8 crore women were willing to work but could not get jobs. Almost one crore jobs were lost during demonetisation; it is estimated that 88 lakh of these were women’s jobs. The promise of 10 per cent of contracts to MSMEs with 50 per cent women workers has not seen the light of day. According to the NCRB data, suicides amongst daily wage workers went up by 170 per cent for male workers, and 137 per cent for women workers between 2014 and 2021.

Women workers are more than half the beneficiaries of MGNREGA work; in some states about two thirds of the applicants are women, and in the wake of a severe employment crisis, more work continues to be demanded under the scheme. However, in 2013, the average number of days available to one household was a little above 60 per year; between 2014-2021 it came down to less than 40 days of work, and between August 2022 and March 2023, the average days of work was just about 30 days per year. The budgetary allocation for the scheme has seen a drastic cut. Such is the ‘Modi Guarantee’!


The implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has led to privatisation and communalisation of education. Thousands of schools have been merged in the name of rationalisation and approximately two lakh government schools have been closed all over the country. As many as one third of girls are not enrolling into school.

The Modi government has been spending less than 0.5 per cent of the GDP on education: between 2018 and 2023 this proportion came down from 0.46 to 0.37 per cent. Girls from economically and socially backward classes are being deprived of higher education due to the massive hikes in fees. Scholarships for girls and women from minorities, dalit, adivasi and other vulnerable sections have been stopped.

Targeting of students from minority communities was especially evident in the case of the ban on hijab in Karnataka schools. Textbooks have been changed to remove references to anti-caste movements and women’s movements for the right to equality, freedom of choice and right to their bodies. BJP-ruled states are giving Manuwadi orientation to textbooks.


The women’s movement has been struggling to get the Women’s Reservation Bill passed for the past 27 years. This government finally passed the ‘Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam’ (new name for the Women’s Reservation Bill) on September 19, 2023. Yet, this remains a farce and will not be implemented during the 2024 general elections as the government has linked the bill to the census and delimitation process which may take more than 10 years to complete. In the last 10 years in power, the government did not pass this bill. In a cynical attempt to exploit women voters for electoral gains, it chose to bring it just months away from the general elections in 2024, and that too, in a way that it cannot be implemented.


The political support for the Hindutva brigade has led to a push towards weakening of the citizenship rights of women and dilution of the laws for their protection against violence. The announcement of the new CAA rules will further worsen the situation. 

The BJP government campaign on ‘love jihad’ has been used to attack inter-faith marriages and women’s right to choose their partner. Many BJP-ruled states have passed laws against inter-faith marriages. Section 498 A of the IPC, giving protection to women against domestic abuse, has been diluted and now no arrests are being made under this law. To get any relief under the Domestic Violence Act is also a very big struggle for women. The agenda of right-wing organisations to oppose any form of social change that alters patriarchal authority and puts women in charge of their own lives is strongly supported by this government.


The graph of violence against women started rising from 2014 onwards as seen clearly from the NCRB data. In 2014, around 37 crimes were committed against women every hour, but, by 2021 this number had gone up to 49, i.e., an increase of more than 30 per cent. The conviction rates for almost all crimes has hovered around a mere 23-25 per cent.

By 2021, the number of daily rapes was at an average of above 90 rapes per day. The number of rapes of ST girls went up from 2.5 per day in 2014 to 4 per day in 2021 and for SC girls from 6 to 11 per day in the same period. BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh topped the list in crimes against women for six consecutive years from 2017 to 2022. The horrifying rapes and murders at Hathras, Unnao, and other places in Uttar Pradesh shocked the entire country.

The NCRB data has recorded a 94.47 per cent surge in sexual offences against children since 2017. Uttar Pradesh has recorded the highest crimes in this category as well, with 8,136 cases out of a total of 63,414 cases recorded in 2022.

These figures show that the BJP-RSS’s Hindutva politics has led to an alarming rise in violence against women. Powerful people connected with the Hindutva brigade are getting away with murder and rape. The cases of BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and the sexual harassment charges against him by Olympic-winning women wrestlers, the similar case of Haryana minister Sandeep Singh, and the most shocking release of the murderers and rapists of Bilkis Bano by the BJP government of Gujarat are blinding examples of the culpability of the BJP.

Couples in inter-faith and inter-caste marriages have been attacked by Sangh Parivar gangs. In 2015, there were 251 recorded ‘crimes in the name of honour’ and in the last three years between 2018 and 2021 this number went up to 300, i.e., an increase of 40 per cent. The BJP government has refused to pass a law against ‘honour killings’ which has been a long-standing demand of AIDWA. 

The Rashtra Sevika Samiti, Durga Vahini, and their affiliates have become the harbingers of the Manu code and create deep polarisation within women, who are emerging as one of the target audiences for right wing groups. Countering this remains one of the biggest emerging challenges for the democratic women’s organisations.

Let us unite to protect our rights for equality and emancipation from poverty, unemployment, hunger, and violence! Defeat the BJP!!


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