New Delhi: The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government on Thursday approved the long-awaited Women’s Reservation Bill that provides 33% reservation for women in Parliament and state legislatures, a top government official said on condition of anonymity.
The Bill, which was approved by the Union cabinet and now requires a Constitutional amendment, is expected to consolidate the ruling party’s base among women.
The Bill was introduced by the UPA government in the Rajya Sabha on 6 May 2008 during its first term in office, drawing protests from across political parties.
While the Samajwadi Party has been opposing the legislation, other parties such as Rashtriya Janata Dal and Pattali Makkal Katchi have expressed reservations. The main opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, has officially pledged unequivocal support for the Bill, but some of its members have expressed their dissent.
Joining hands: Political opposites Sushma Swaraj and Brinda Karat on 6 May 2008, when the Bill was first tabled in Parliament. HT
The Bill was referred to the standing committee on personnel, public grievances, law and justice, currently headed by Congress leader Jayanthi Natarajan, which had “strongly” recommended that the legislation be passed at the earliest without any dilution.
It had said the decision should not be “left to the discretion of political parties” as proposed by the Election Commission of India earlier.
The committee also suggested that the period the reservation would be in force, set at 15 years, could be reconsidered “once the equalization process is done and adequate political representation of women is achieved”.
President Pratibha Patil, in her address to both houses of Parliament at the start of the Budget session, had reiterated the government’s commitment to passing the Bill.