Implement women’s bill at the earliest: Kharge

Sep 22, 2023 12:31 AM IST

Kharge was addressing the Rajya Sabha minutes before the House approved the 106th amendment to the Constitution

New Delhi: Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Thursday asked the government to implement reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies at the earliest, saying the Centre should show urgency in the matter just as it did to pass the three farm bills in a hurry and announced demonetisation without prior notice.

Mallikarjun Kharge (PTI)
Mallikarjun Kharge (PTI)

Kharge was addressing the Rajya Sabha minutes before the House approved the 106th amendment to the Constitution, a day after the Lok Sabha passed the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam, 2023.

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“This shouldn’t be another poll jumla [empty promise]. I want this bill to be implemented and we are supporting you unconditionally. There is no need to link the women reservation with census and delimitation,” he said. “You should have passed the bill just as you passed farmers’ bill and [announced] demonetisation in a hurry.”

Pointing out that reservation for women is already being implemented in urban bodies and panchayat, the leader of Opposition said: “Why don’t you roll out reservation on the basis of current strength? When the delimitation leads to increase seats, you can increase the quota accordingly.”

Kharge asked top ministers to give a timeline for rolling out the quota and demanded reservation for women from Other Backward Classes (OBC) communities too.

On Thursday, Opposition lawmakers in Rajya Sabha supported the 128th Constitution Amendment Bill that seeks to reserve 33% of seats in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies for women, with some seeking a similar quota for women in the Upper House as well.

Trinamool Congress (TMC) lawmaker Derek O’Brien said the INDIA bloc challenges the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to implement it from 2024. “All you need to do is remove [Article] 334A from your existing bill,” he said, referring to the article introduced in the bill that says the reservation shall come into effect after the delimitation is undertaken after the relevant figures for the first census have been published.

“If you are finding it difficult to do, then at least try to bring one third of women elected from your party to Parliament with or without your bill,” the TMC leader said. “Bring one third registration in Rajya Sabha as well. We will also support it.”

Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Priyanka Chaturvedi hit out at BJP president JP Nadda who earlier in the day had said this is the “only way we can give reservation”.

“…The bill was immediately implementable when it was brought in the Rajya Sabha in 2010,” Chaturvedi said. “There might not have been such a law in the whole world which would be implementable seven years down the line.”

Elamaram Kareem of CPI(M) said the BJP had promised to bring the women’s reservation bill in 2014 and 2019 as well, but did not take any action. “This is an election gimmick by the BJP after losing elections in Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh, besides facing defeat in the civic polls in Delhi,” he said.

Raising concerns over the implementation of the bill, independent MP Kapil Sibal said if the census happens in 2026, there is going to be a lot of issues over delimitation since the population in northern states has increased exponentially, but not in southern states. “Now, we don’t know who will come to power, but I want the PM and home minister to make a statement that if they don’t complete this process by 2029, they will resign. This will show us their genuineness,” Sibal added.

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