Bring women’s bill in Parl special session, Cong tells govt
The Congress party has demanded the passing of the Women's Reservation Bill in the upcoming special session of Parliament to pre-empt the BJP's attempt to table the legislation. The bill, which reserves a third of all seats for women in state assemblies and the Lok Sabha, has been passed in the Rajya Sabha but not in the Lok Sabha. The Congress's push for the bill coincides with the government's efforts to introduce schemes for women. The bill has the potential to create a division in the opposition INDIA bloc as some alliance partners want sub-quota for SC, ST, and OBC communities.
A day before the special session of Parliament, the Congress party reiterated its demand for the Women’s Reservation Bill to pre-empt any last-minute attempt by the Bharatiya Janata Party to table the draft legislation in the Lok Sabha.
“We in the CWC (Congress working committee) demanded on Sunday that the bill for women’s reservation should be passed in the forthcoming special session of the Parliament,” Congress spokesman Pawan Khera said.
Congress governments at the Centre in the past had pushed for the long-pending bill that reserves a third of all seats for women in state assemblies and the Lok Sabha, Khera said.
“The Women’s Reservation Bill has an interesting history. It goes back to 1989 when our late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi ensured that there is one-third reservation in elected local bodies for women. There was also an attempt made to pass the Women’s Reservation Bill. It got passed in the Lok Sabha, but fell in the Rajya Sabha because the then opposition did not cooperate,” Khera said, underlining the party’s ownership of the draft law.
The Congress pointed out that the bill, which has to be tabled as a constitution amendment bill, was passed in one House in 1993, and the same thing happened in 2010, when the Manmohan Singh government cleared the bill in the Rajya Sabha. “This particular bill got passed in the Rajya Sabha and it is still alive,” Khera said.
Minutes later, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh, too, pushed for the bill. “The Congress party has for the past nine years been demanding that the Women’s Reservation Bill already passed by the Rajya Sabha should now get passed by the Lok Sabha as well,” he posted on X (formerly Twitter).
The Congress’s pitch for the bill coincides with the central government rolling out one scheme after another for women to create a vote bank out of India’s 50% population. From Ujjwala (free cooking gas connections) to the new Mahila Samman Savings Certificate announced in 2023, the government has introduced a number of schemes aimed at women. Even the ownership of houses under the PM Awas scheme are given to women.
The bill has the potential to create a division in the opposition INDIA bloc, party insiders said, declining to be named. At least three alliance partners -- Samajwadi Party, Janata Dal (United) and Rashtriya Janata Dal -- want the bill to provide 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.
Telangana’s ruling party Bharat Rashtra Samithi, the Congress’ rival in the southern state, has also demanded the passage of the women reservation bill.
The special session of Parliament will start from Monday and the BJP has listed a bunch of bills, including one to set up a panel led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to select India’s chief election commissioner. The constitutional position of the poll overseer is currently appointed by the President on recommendation of the government.