In an apparent bid to portray itself as the voice of the women to counter BJP, Congress on Tuesday announced that it would reserve 40 per cent tickets for the women in the forthcoming assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, which are barely five months away.
Addressing a press conference in Lucknow, Congress general secretary and UP in-charge Priyanka Gandhi Vadra dropped ample hints that the grand old party, which had been reduced a fringe player in the state electoral politics, would seek to use the women power to 'defeat' the ''caste-ridden politics'' being practised in the state by its rivals.
"Women have not been able to become a force in UP as they are not united... they need to be united... free gas cylinders and monetary help will not improve their condition," she said.
"It is essential to get rid of the politics of caste and religion... it is high time women rose above caste and fought for change... women should not be seen through the prism of caste," the Congress leader said.
Priyanka cited incidents of crimes against women in the state in the past few years and said that the decision to give 40 per cent tickets to the women was prompted by her party's desire to ensure that they did not face discrimination and got equal opportunity to grow in every field.
She referred to the Hathras rape and murder victim and the Unnao gang-rape victim and claimed that the absence of women in politics had resulted in creating an atmosphere of hatred in the state.
"I met women from different sections of the society during my visits inside the state and found that all of them had been victims of discrimination and all of them wanted to do something for the society and country," she added.
Priyanka, however, added that the tickets to the women would be given on the basis of merit though she said that there was nothing wrong in fielding wives and daughters of the politicians in the polls.
On whether the decision would be extended to the Congress-ruled state of Punjab, which would also go to polls along with UP, she said that she was in charge of UP only.
"It will be good if they (Punjab leaders) also follow it." She added that she has not taken any decision on contesting the polls yet.
When asked about the chief minister's face of the Congress in the state, the Congress leader said that a decision in this regard would be taken at the appropriate time.