Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday underscored the importance of women empowerment, which he described as the "real" double engine for growth.
Patnaik batted for ensuring adequate representation of women in decision-making bodies like the Parliament and state assemblies.
The chief minister used the expression "double engine" in an apparent reference to its frequent mention in BJP leaders' speeches, as a part of campaigning in the state.
"In my view, if India has to hit the highway of growth and compete with the likes of the US and China, it has to transform its political landscape by empowering women," the CM said.
Patnaik's party, the BJD, has fielded seven women candidates (33 per cent) for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The state has 21 Lok Sabha seats, and will go to polls in four phases, beginning April 11.
"This is the real double engine the country needs, to bring about growth with equity and justice," he said, adding, if India had adequate representation of women, its approach to multitude of issues would have been different.
"The question of war, peace and terrorism would be differently decided. Our laws on rape, sexual assault and dowry will be more effective implemented," Patnaik said.
Noting that empowering household incomes will be much a priority as empowering corporate income, he said, "Both our national parties in their manifestos have repeatedly spoken about women empowerment, but somewhere when it comes to walking the talk, there is a deafening silence."
The chief minister said the BJD, however, has done its bit to break this silence.
"I am sure the people of Odisha will ensure that the voice of our seven women candidates is heard in the hallowed halls of Parliament, and I am hopeful that the movement that has started from Odisha will be followed by our national parties," he said.
Patnaik said his father Biju Patnaik, after whose name the BJD is formed, was one of the pioneers in women empowerment, by making provision of 33 per cent reservation in panchayati raj institutions (PRIs). "We increased it to 50 per cent," the CM said.
"One of my most satisfying moments as president of the BJD was when the party, in a first-of-its-kind decision of any political party in the country -- decided to provide 33 per cent reservation for women candidates to the Lok Sabha," he said.
Patnaik also hailed New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden for her statement in the aftermath of the recent terror attack in her country in which 50 worshippers were killed.
"Her response was not what is generally expected of leaders at such times... that is to take the majority line and soft-peddle the issue. Her response stunned the whole world when she declared in her now-famous statement - 'New Zealand is their home' (referring to the refugees and the migrants killed). They are us," Patnaik pointed out.
Her response transcended the narrow boundaries of religion and race, and embraced humanity, he said.
Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, was perhaps the only leader who welcomed refugees from other countries, Patnaik said.
"These leaders are examples of what women can bring to politics. If politics is the exercise of power, women have a more humane touch in its expression..." Patnaik added.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)