The Congress has welcomed the Union Cabinet’s move to clear the long-pending Women’s Reservation Bill to introduce it during the ongoing special session of Parliament. The constitution amendment bill, once passed, will ensure reservation for women in Parliament and state assemblies.
An old letter from Rahul Gandhi to Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been widely circulated where the Congress MP wrote about giving ‘unconditional support’ to pass the Bill to provide legislative reservation to women.
“Our PM says he’s a crusader for women’s empowerment? Time for him to rise above party politics, walk-his-talk & have the Women’s Reservation Bill passed by Parliament. The Congress offers him its unconditional support,” the 2018 letter, which was shared by Congress MP Jairam Ramesh, reads.
Several attempts has been made since 1996 to formulate a law for legislative reservation for women, but failed. The UPA government in 2010 managed to pass the Bill in the Rajya Sabha but failed to table it in the Lok Sabha owing to some pressure from allies.
Rahul Gandhi pointed out in his letter how the BJP supported the Bill earlier and then Union minister Arun Jaitley called it ‘historic and momentous’.
However, it is being claimed that the new Bill will not be identical to the 2010 Bill and the scope of reservation is likely to expand beyond the Parliament and state assemblies. The earlier Bill didn’t mention the provision for quota within quota – a key demand of many regional parties.
Ahead of the Parliament session, Opposition leaders pushed for women’s reservation. Meanwhile, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge also pointed out the skewed gender ratio of elected representatives where only 14% of them were women in Parliament, whereas, their number in state assemblies is just 10%.
The Bill is likely to witness a smooth passage this time with the support of NDA, it supporter BJD and key Opposition parties, collectively bringing together 431 MPs in Lok Sabha and 175 in the Rajya Sabha.