Women’s reservation bill gets Cabinet nod, likely to be tabled on Wednesday: Officials
Some BJP functionaries claimed that the new women’s reservation bill won’t be identical to 2010 bill.
The Union Cabinet led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the constitution amendment bill to provide reservation for women in Parliament and state assemblies — paving the way for the introduction of the historic bill in the ongoing special session of Parliament, officials said.
Some BJP functionaries claimed that the new bill won’t be identical to the 2010 bill and might expand the scope of reservation beyond the Lok Sabha and the state assemblies. In the 2010 bill, there was also no provision for quota within quota—a key demand of many regional parties.
In the past since 1996, several attempts were made to make a law for legislative reservation for women, but all attempts had failed. In 2010, the UPA government could pass the bill in the Upper House of Parliament but couldn’t bring it to the Lok Sabha under pressure from allies.
This time, the bill is likely to see smooth passage. The ruling NDA, its supporter BJD and key opposition parties such as the Congress, Trinamool, BRS and Left are expected to support the bill in Parliament. Together, the bill will enjoy the support of 431 MPs in the Lok Sabha and 175 in the Rajya Sabha.
Hours after the Union cabinet meeting ended, Union minister of state for food processing and Jal Shakti, Prahalad Singh Patel said on X, “Only the Modi government had the moral courage to fulfill the demand for women’s reservation. Which was proved by the approval of the cabinet. Congratulations @narendramodi ji and congratulations to the Modi government @PMOIndia @BJP4India @BJP4MP.”
Rajya Sabha MP Mahesh Jethamalani said on X “#PMModi’s Cabinet has struck a massive blow in favour of women’s empowerment by approving the #WomensReservationBill providing for 1/3 representation for women in Parliament and the Legislative Assemblies.”
“The Bill first tabled in Parliament in 1996 has gathered dust ever since. Successive govts since 1996 failed to gather the resolve to press for the Bill to be enacted into law. The Bill was on the anvil in my opinion ever since the PM pitched for Nari Shakti in his 2022 Independence Day speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort. Thereafter the PM has repeatedly asserted the theme of Nari Shakti -most recently in Bengaluru after the successful launch of Chandrayaan 3 when he said Nari Shakti was the “pinnacle of life and catalyst of change” Every party has paid mere lip service to gender justice but in truth “मोदी हैं तो मुमकिन है,” added Jethmalani.
The Union Cabinet met on Monday evening at 6.30pm, in a departure from its usual schedule on Wednesday. The marathon meeting lasted nearly 1.5 hours but there was no official announcement on the decisions taken.
Minutes after the Union Cabinet meeting, the Congress tried to take the credit for its earlier push for women’s reservation. Jairam Ramesh posted Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s 2018 letter asking Modi to bring the women’s reservation bill and quoted Gandhi’s tweet that said, “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.”
Ramesh added, “It’s been a long-standing demand of the Congress party to implement women’s reservation. We welcome the reported decision of the Union Cabinet and await the details of the Bill. This could have very well been discussed in the all-party meeting before the Special Session, and consensus could have been built instead of operating under a veil of secrecy.”
The bill would require an amendment to the Indian Constitution and can become law if it is passed by two-third majority in both Houses of Parliament and with approval from at least 50% of states. In the UPA era, The Constitution (One Hundred and Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2008 was passed only in the Rajya Sabha.
The bill also has the potential to divide the Oppositin’s INDIA bloc, depending on the provisions of the bill. INDIA parties such as Samajwadi Party, Janata Dal (United) and Rashtriya Janata Dal — want the bill to provide a sub-quota for SC, ST and OBC communities. The Congress, which had brought the bill without any quota in 2010, has not committed to the demands of its INDIA partners.
When the women’s reservation bill was getting approved in the Rajya Sabha in 2010, marshals had to be called to remove RJD MPs from the House as they had resorted to violent protests. Copies of the bill were torn apart as Hindi-belt regional parties were vehement in their demand for caste-based sub-quota.
With four days left in the session, the Opposition is expecting that the bill might be brought latest by Wednesday.
Parliamentary officials added that on Tuesday, no legislative business is expected in both Houses. India’s recent success in the Chandrayan-3 will be discussed in Parliament on Tuesday.
“On Wednesday and Friday, the government is expected to push its legislative agenda,” said a senior leader.
The government had earlier listed The Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023, The Advocates (Amendment) Bill, 2023, The Repealing and Amending Bill, 2022, The Post Office Bill, 2023 and the Repeals the India Post Office Act, 1898 as its agenda for the session.
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