Use majority in Lok Sabha to get women’s reservation bill passed: Sonia tells PM Modi
New Delhi: Ahead of the winter session of Parliament, Congress president Sonia Gandhi has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take up the women’s reservation bill and get it approved in the Lok Sabha.
Gandhi, in a letter dated Wednesday, requested Modi to take “advantage” of the government’s majority in the lower house and offered support to the landmark legislation.
The move is significant not just because it comes ahead of the winter session but also because the Congress party was unable to convince its allies to pass the bill during the 10 years of United Progressive Alliance (UPA) rule that ended in 2014.
“I am writing to request you to take advantage of your majority in the Lok Sabha to now get the women’s reservation bill passed in the lower house as well,” Gandhi said in the letter. She added that the Rajya Sabha had passed the bill on 9 March 2010 but it had since then “languished in the Lok Sabha for one reason or another”.
“The Congress party has always and will continue to support this legislation which will be a significant step forward in the empowerment of women,” she said.
The bill, which aims to set aside 33% seats in Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies for women, also stipulates that one-third of seats that are already reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes will be reserved for women from those categories.
Interestingly, Gandhi had raised the issue last year too while speaking in the Lok Sabha during a special session on the occasion of International Women’s Day. She had then called the bill a “legitimate due” of women.
On Thursday, Congress fielded its newly appointed women’s wing chief and Lok Sabha member Sushmita Dev to address reporters on the issue.
“The question we ask Prime Minster Narendra Modi is that after three years of various women’s group activists, NGOs (non-governmental organisations) and representatives demanding and agitating inside and outside Parliament for the reservation bill to be passed, why the delay,” Dev said.
A senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, on condition of anonymity, said that the letter had been addressed to the prime minister and so the party would not comment on it.
“What Sonia Gandhi is doing is ensuring that the Modi government does not hijack the women’s reservation agenda and claims that it was the BJP which finally pushed for it,” said Subrata Mukherjee, a New Delhi-based political analyst and former political science professor at Delhi University.
“With this the Congress also wants to put forth its support for the legislation. In a way, the ball is now in the government’s court and it will be interesting to see what initiatives it takes to get the legislation passed,” he added.
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