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Lipstick-size pepper spray and a mobile app: What Congress is offering women in Bihar

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The move is being seen as an attempt to tap into the women vote, which comprises 74 per cent of Bihar’s voting population.

 New Delhi: The Congress Monday launched a mobile app, ‘Indira Shakti’, for the women of Bihar, and distributed lipstick-size pepper spray to around 2,000 girls in Patna.

The move comes in the wake of the Muzaffarpur shelter home abuse incident and other cases of atrocities on women in the state.

The Congress Bihar in-charge, Shaktisinh Gohil, launched the Android-based mobile app at the party office in Patna, to mark the 75th birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Also read: Women’s safety takes a backseat as Delhi auto drivers grapple with faulty GPS devices

Gohil said the app, which he claims has been developed by his own team, would come to the rescue of women in distress.

“There are not many resources available for girls and daughters in Bihar as compared to other places. Also, women here are concerned about their safety and as a party we are there to offer help,” Gohil said.

The app, which can be downloaded on Google Play Store, allows a user to feed four mobile numbers of their choice. In case of an emergency, if a woman clicks on a specific button, the app immediately sends messages to all the four mobile numbers with the location of the person. The person who is the first of the four numbers will also get a call with location details.

“Congress president Rahul Gandhi had instructed us to come out with something concrete to help women,” said Rajesh Lilothia, Congress secretary in-charge of Bihar and the brain behind this app.

“After developing it, we wrote to the chief minister and the governor of Bihar to add the numbers of the local SPs on the app so that the first distress call goes to the police, but we have got no response.”

Lipstick-size pepper spray

Apart from the app, the Congress also distributed pepper spray, the size of a lipstick, to around 2,000 girls.

“By mixing some chemicals we have made it 20 times more effective than the usual pepper spray and it can easily overpower four to five miscreants,” Gohil said.

State party leaders have been asked to fund the distribution of the spray during Congress programmes in all districts of the state.

The initiatives are being seen as an attempt by the Congress, which has no significant presence in the state, to tap into women voters of the state.

Women make up 74 per cent of Bihar’s voters and during the 2015 assembly elections, outvoted men — 60.48 per cent of women voters exercised their franchise as opposed 53.32 per cent of men.

Women also make up the bulk of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s supporters and he has acknowledged that by doling out several schemes for them — from distributing cycles for school-going girls, the liquor ban to announcing a financial scheme for the girl child.

But Nitish’s image has taken a beating among women, after the Muzaffarpur shelter home case and similar cases of exploitation being reported from shelter homes across the state.

“This is just an effort to show the mirror to a government that talks about Digital India and Beti Bachao Beti Padhao,” says Varinder Singh Rathore, Congress secretary in-charge of Bihar. “The government couldn’t do a simple thing which could be extremely helpful for women and it talks of promoting digital.”

Also read: Bihar NGOs running shelter homes allege harassment by govt after ‘mass rape’ case

Gohil, however, insists that none of the measures are political in nature. “There is no political motive behind it and we have done it just to instil confidence among our daughters and sisters who are scared of the situation in Bihar,” Gohil said.

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