Smriti Irani. Photo: PTI
Thiruvananthapuram: Union Minister Smriti Irani on Monday took a dig at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi stating that if he "remains" in Wayanad, it would suffer the same fate as Amethi in Uttar Pradesh when he was the MP from there.
Gandhi was the MP from Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency before his conviction and sentencing for two years by a Gujarat court in a criminal defamation case. The Gujarat High Court has reserved its verdict on the Congress leader's plea for a stay on the conviction.
After inaugurating the state-level Women Labour Convention organised by the Kerala unit of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) here, Irani said she had the "good fortune" of being the one who "sent away" Gandhi from Amethi.
"The reason for that was that while he was an MP from Amethi, 80 per cent of the people there did not have electricity connections, there was no District Collector's office, no fire station, no medical college, no Kendriya Vidyalaya or Sainik School and the district hospital had no dialysis centre or X-ray machine.
"Once he left, all these facilities and infrastructure was made possible there. Therefore, if he remains in Wayanad, it too shall suffer the same fate as Amethi. So, you (people) have to ensure he does not remain here," the Union Minister for Women and Child Development said.
The minister further said that wherever she is, be it in Delhi or Amethi, she worries a lot about Wayanad and therefore, decided to convert 250 anganwadis there into 'saksham' (capable) anganwadis.
A saksham anganwadi is a centrally sponsored scheme under which anganwadis in states and Union Territories provide a package of six services -- supplementary nutrition, pre-school non-formal education, nutrition and health education, immunisation, health check-up and referral services -- to all eligible beneficiaries.
Irani also spoke about the various central government schemes, initiatives or policies implemented in Kerala for women safety, financial security of the people and social welfare of the citizens of the state.
On the issue of alleged lack of women safety in the state, the minister referred to the recent killing of a young doctor -- Vandana Das -- in a taluk hospital in the state and said it was surprising such an incident occurred despite the presence of police officers there.
She questioned why despite various central government initiatives, like training personnel to help victims of cyber crime, distributing forensic kits and facilitating setting up of more fast track courts, and the financial support being provided to strengthen the law and order system in Kerala, there was a "lack of intention" on the part of the administration to ensure women safety.
"So when one hears of crimes against women in the state, one is forced to ask why despite all this central help, including financial support, to strengthen the systems, there is a lack of intention on the part of the state governments to ensure women safety," the minister said.
Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan, who also spoke at the event, expressed a similar view on the issue of women safety, especially in their workplaces.
He said that having 'night walks' where women in large numbers take to the streets does not indicate or ensure their safety as in reality they often have to return home late from work all alone.
Later in the day, both Irani and Muraleedharan met Dr Das' family at their residence at Muttuchira in Kaduthuruthy area of Kottayam district and consoled the parents.
Prior to returning from there, they also paid tributes at the ossuary built near the house in memory of Dr Das.
Earlier in the day, Irani, in her speech, contended that while the ruling Left front in the state makes claims of working for the welfare of the poor, it was the Centre which was trying to ensure economic justice and financial security to the people of Kerala. "The Left only makes claims," she alleged.
The BJP leader further alleged that the Left front was only known for strikes and worked for their own political development.