Sonia Gandhi urges PM Modi to use Lok Sabha majority to pass women’s quota bill
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Sonia Gandhi urges PM Modi to use Lok Sabha majority to pass women’s quota bill

In letter to the PM, Congress chief assures support for bill in Rajya Sabha

india Updated: Sep 21, 2017 15:42 IST
Congress president Sonia Gandhi (left) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (HT file photo )

Congress president Sonia Gandhi has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to take advantage of his party’s majority in the Lok Sabha to clear the women’s reservation bill.

She reminded the Prime Minister that the Rajya Sabha had on March 9, 2010 passed the bill that sought to give 33% reservation to women in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies.

“Since then, however, it has languished in the Lok Sabha for one reason or another,” Gandhi said in the letter dated September 20.

“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.”

Introduced by the UPA government in May 2008, the Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha amid high drama that saw marshals being deployed to evict some protesting members.

The bill lapsed with the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha in 2014 since it was not cleared by the Lower House in time.

As per the rule, any bill pending in the Lok Sabha lapses with dissolution of the House. Bills pending in the Rajya Sabha remain “alive” forever since the Upper House is a permanent body and can’t be dissolved.

The bill will now need to be brought back in the Lok Sabha as well as the Rajya Sabha.

In her letter, the Congress chief assured the Prime Minister that her party will continue to support this legislation.

The BJP is in a minority in the Rajya Sabha.

Gandhi mentioned in her letter that the Congress and its late leader Rajiv Gandhi were first to suggest provisions to reserve seats for women in panchayats and nagarpalikas in the constitution amendment bills that were first opposed by parties in 1989. The provisions were later passed by both houses of Parliament in 1993 to become the 73rd and 74th Amendments.

For its part, the BJP-led NDA government has maintained that it was committed to ensuring the passage of women’s quota bill in Parliament. However, the ruling side has refused to set a time frame for bringing a fresh bill and insisted that consensus among political parties was crucial.

On March 8, 2016, Gandhi took the floor in the Lok Sabha on the international women’s day to demand the much-awaited bill’s passage in Parliament, saying the Modi government’s “maximum governance” philosophy also means “giving us women, our legitimate due”.

First Published: Sep 21, 2017 14:03 IST