Narayanpur (West Bengal): UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Saturday said a law will be passed soon to prevent crime against women in the country.

Gandhi, who was speaking after the foundation stone laying ceremony of Ghani Khan Choudhury Institute of Engineering and Technology in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, said the UPA government had taken various steps for women safety and establishing their rights.

"The UPA government has taken several steps for the betterment of women and to make them self dependent. With a fund of around Rs 1000 crores, we are planning to set up a Women Bank, which will be run by women and help women in their business ventures," said Gandhi, who is also the AICC president.

"We are also constituting a Nirbhaya fund with Rs 1000 crore. This fund will be used to protect the honour and dignity of our mothers and sisters," she said. Gandhi's remarks come against the backdrop of the Union Cabinet clearing a bill on Thursday providing for stringent punishment for rape, acid attack, stalking and voyeurism besides reducing the age of consent for sex to 16 years.

The bill, brought against the backdrop of the December 16 Delhi gang-rape, provides for minimum jail term of 20 years for rape which may be extended to 'natural life' of the convict in jail or even death if the victim dies or is left in a 'persistent vegetative state'.

Assurances on Food Security Bill

Referring to the proposed Food Security Bill, Gandhi said UPA was looking into passing it. "We are trying to pass the Food Security Bill so that poor people of this country don't have to starve.”

"Education is also an important sector in the growth of the nation. Our UPA government under the Manmohan Singh has given special attention to technical education and education. We have also taken measures to provide proper education to kids of rural India," said Gandhi. Steps have also been taken for the development of minorities, she added.

‘Need to fight communal forces’

Sonia further said that India needed to fight communal forces effectively for its economic and social development. "Economic and social development of the nation should go hand in hand for which we need to fight communal forces strongly," she said.

"We are a secular nation and this is our main strength and capital. The Congress party is fully prepared to protect the secular fabric of the country," Gandhi said. Stating that the UPA government had adopted a slew of measures for minorities and backward classes and to protect the dignity of women, she said programmes such as the MNREGA, JNNURM, Bharat Nirmaan, and providing social security for unorganised sector had also been taken up.

"The UPA government is also looking at the backwards and minorities and steps are being taken to make them self-reliant. Sachar committee suggestions will be implemented and madrasas will extend special scholarships to women," the Congress leader said.

"Prime Minister's 15-point programme for minorities will be upgraded and this is being overlooked by the Prime Minister himself," she said.

She said that the proposed Food Security Bill would also be passed soon. Regarding education, she said that the government was giving special focus to technical education and many technical institutes had been opened across the country.


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