Women's quota: Why BJP wakes up only before polls, asks Congress

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | September 09, 2023 IST

Congress on Women's Quota Bill

New Delhi, Sep 9: Ahead of the five-day special session of the Parliament, a debate on the Women's Reservation Bill has started across the country after Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar recently said that the day is not far when women will get "due representation" in the country's legislatures -- a remark that the Opposition has termed as an attempt to woo women voters.

The Bill, which seeks to reserve 33 per cent of seats in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies for women, was passed by the Rajya Sabha in 2010 but lapsed after the Lok Sabha did not clear it.

The Vice President's comment has sparked speculation that the women's reservation bill could be moved during the special session of Parliament scheduled for September 18-22, the agenda for which is yet to be revealed.

Speaking to IANS, senior Congress leader Kumari Seilja said: "On this,  Sonia Gandhi ji had written letters (to the government) several times and had assured that the Congress party will support Women's Reservation Bill... From the very beginning, she (Sonia Gandhi) wanted this bill to be brought (in Parliament)."

"But, why didn't they (BJP) bring it? See the restlessness of the BJP and (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi, their weakness is surfacing. Sometimes they are constituting committee, calling a special session not disclosing the agenda, or talking about INDIA, Bharat," she said.

"When elections are inching closer in five states, then you (Central government) thought of reducing the price of LPG cylinders by Rs 200. It is clear that they are trying to fabricate issues (for elections)," added Selja, who is also the in-charge of poll-bound Chhattisgarh.

Mahila Congress chief Netta D’Souza, speaking to IANS, said: "The Congress has always stood for women's political empowerment. It is the Congress in the country that has actually nurtured political empowerment of women by ensuring reservation at local bodies, initially 33 per cent and then 50 per cent."

Attacking the BJP-led Central government, she said: "We all know the Congress had tabled the bill; we had it cleared in the Rajya Sabha but in the Lok Sabha, we did not have the numbers then."

"It has been nine and half years since the BJP is in power and they have not yet moved an inch towards ensuring that the bill be passed," D’Souza added.

She said: "This is only an attempt to woo women voters... The way the government has performed in the last nine and half years, it has made it really difficult for a woman to manage the household. The government has failed and it is trying to woo women," the Congress leader said.

"We have seen in the last nine and half years, the government's insensitivity towards every issue concerning women, even the rising rate of crime against women."

A bill seeking to reserve 33 per cent of seats for women was first moved by the H.D. Deve Gowda-led government in 1996.

The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government reintroduced the legislation, officially known as the Constitution (One Hundred and Eighth Amendment) Bill, in 2008.

The legislation was passed by the Rajya Sabha in 2010, but it could not be passed in the Lok Sabha and it lapsed in 2014.

Even parties such as the Samajwadi Party and the Lalu Prasad Yadav-led Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) have opposed the bill in its current form, demanding "a quota within the quota".

The parties have argued that a quota for Dalit, backward, extremely backward and minority communities should be proposed in the bill.

Being a constitutional amendment, the bill will require the support of two-thirds of the members in the Lok Sabha. 

It was also part of the BJP's election manifesto in 2014.

Dhankhar while speaking at an event on "Women's Participation in Nation Building" at a college in Jaipur earlier this week had said that the day is not far when women will get their "due representation" in Parliament and legislative assemblies through an amendment to the Constitution.

He said that if this reservation is given soon, India will become a world power before 2047.

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