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Sonia Gandhi declares support to women’s reservation bill

Sep 20, 2023 01:16 PM IST

In her speech, Gandhi recalled the contribution of Indian icons such as Sarojini Naidu, Sucheta Kriplani, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, Aruna Asaf Ali

Former Congress president Sonia Gandhi demanded that the women reservation bill must be implemented immediately while pitching for OBC quota within reserved seats as she declared her party’s support for the bill in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

Congress MP Sonia Gandhi speaks in the Lok Sabha during a special session of the Parliament in New Delhi on Wednesday. (PTI)
Congress MP Sonia Gandhi speaks in the Lok Sabha during a special session of the Parliament in New Delhi on Wednesday. (PTI)

She mentioned that the passage of the bill will “fulfil the dreams of my life partner Rajiv Gandhi.”

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“The Congress party supports The Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam. We will be happy if the bill is passed. But I want to ask, in past 13 years, women have waited patiently for this bill. But now, our women have been asked to wait for some more years. How many years? 2, 3, 6, 8? how many years?” Gandhi asked as she opened the debate on the bill.

Gandhi’s remarks were a reference to a provision in the bill that says the political reservation for women will come into effect after the delimitation exercise (which can’t take place before 2026) and the completion of the decadal census that was due in 2021.

“The Congress wants this bill to be implemented immediately. But along with this, SC, ST and OBC women should get reservation. Along with this, the caste census should also be conducted. Any further delay to implement this bill will be injustice to women. It must be implemented at the earliest,” Gandhi said.

In her first speech in the new Parliament, Gandhi hailed women power in India, saying: “Women in India never thought about her own profit and worked like a river to benefit everyone. It is impossible to understand the patience of a women. She had made us intelligent and hard-working.”

Also Read: Women’s quota a fraught move tangled in political history

Gandhi recalled the contribution of Indian icons such as Sarojini Naidu, Sucheta Kriplani, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, Aruna Asaf Ali and said: “Women worked shoulder to shoulder with men in the Independence war and for making a new India. Sarojini Naidu, Sucheta Kriplani, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, Aruna Asaf Ali worked hard to to realize the vision of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel and Maulana Azad.”

On Tuesday morning, Gandhi had dubbed the women reservation bill as “our bill.”, and on Wednesday, she recalled how former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi pushed the first bill for women quota in municipal bodies and panchayats.

“Later, PV Narsimha Rao passed the bill. Today, 15 lakh women leaders are there in panchayat and municipal bodies as a result of the bill. Rajiv Gandhi’s dream was half realised, it will be fulfilled after this bill is passed,” Gandhi said.

The Union cabinet on Monday evening approved a Constitution amendment bill to provide reservation for women in the national and state legislatures, paving the way for the introduction of the landmark legislation in the ongoing special session of Parliament.

Reserving seats for women in Lok Sabha and state assemblies is a decades-long demand to bolster the number of female lawmakers, but previous attempts have stumbled in Parliament due to deep political divisions.

In a 2010 version of the bill that was passed only by the Rajya Sabha, there was also no provision for subcategories of castes within the women’s quota — for example, separate sub-divisions for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes within the women’s quota — a key demand of many regional parties

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