Prayagraj: Taking a swipe at his rivals, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said the government is trying to raise the marriage age of women to 21 so that they can have time to study and progress, but this has upset some.
Addressing a rally here in Uttar Pradesh, were assembly elections are due early next year, he also said 25 lakh of the 30 lakh houses given under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana are registered in the name of women in the state.
This shows the government's commitment to "sacha (true) empowerment of women", Modi said.
"We are trying to increase the age of marriage of women to 21 years so that they can have time to study and progress. The country is taking this decision for its daughters. Everyone is seeing who is having problems with this," he said.
Samajwadi Party (SP) MPs Shafiqur Rehman Barq and ST Hasan had made adverse comments over the Centre's move to increase the legal age of marriage.
SP president Akhilesh Yadav had, however, distanced himself from the statements of his party's Sambhal and Moradabad MPs, saying the SP is progressive and the views expressed are personal.
On Tuesday, the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, that seeks to fix 21 years as the uniform age of marriage for women and men was introduced in Lok Sabha. Soon after its introduction, the government urged the Chair to refer it to a standing committee.
The bill seeks to amend seven personal laws -- the Indian Christian Marriage Act; the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act; the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act; the Special Marriage Act; the Hindu Marriage Act; and the Foreign Marriage Act.
In an apparent dig at the SP's rule in the state, Modi said, "Five years ago the mafia ruled the roost on the roads of Uttar Pradesh, and the worst sufferers were our sisters and daughters".
"It was difficult for them to move out on roads and go to schools and colleges. But Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has put these hooligans in their right place," he said.
The SP government in the state from 2012 to 2017 was succeeded by the BJP government.
Hailing the Adityanath government, Modi said, "Now in Uttar Pradesh there is security, rights and opportunities (for women). I am confident that with the blessings of our mothers and sisters, no one will push the state back into darkness again.
Come let us take an oath from this pious land of Prayagraj that the state will progress," he said.
Schemes like the Mukhyamantri Kanya Sumangala Yojana are becoming a great medium of trust for the rural poor and girls, Modi said after transferring crores of rupees to accounts of over one lakh girls in the state.
He also interacted with banking correspondent (BC)-sakhis, women self help groups preparing supplementary nutritious food manufacturing units, and beneficiaries of the Kanya Sumangala scheme
"Now with the help of BC-sakhis, banks have reached villages. Those who have to withdraw money from direct benefit schemes now do not have to leave villages. For those who think that this is not a big task, I want to tell them that the Uttar Pradesh government has given responsibility of transaction of Rs 75,000 crore to BC-sakhis," he said.