Landmark bill for women’s reservation passed amid calls for OBC inclusion
Women visitors at Parliament House on the day the Women’s reservation bill was passed. Pic/PTI
The Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed a bill granting reservation to women on one-third seats in Lok Sabha and state assemblies with near unanimity amid demands from the opposition to extend similar benefits to Other Backward Classes and immediate implementation of the measure before the elections next year.
After a spirited eight-hour debate in which 60 members participated, the Lok Sabha passed the Constitution (128th Amendment) Bill, with 454 members voting in favour and two against it.
The bill was passed as per the provisions of Article 368 (2) of the Constitution relating to the passage of constitutional amendment bills which requires support of the majority of the total membership of the House and a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members present and voting.
The bill will now be presented in the Rajya Sabha, 13 years after the Congress-led UPA government tabled its version of the proposed legislation. The bill is widely expected to clear this second and hurdle too, with the BJP confident of support from select Opposition parties.
Home Minister Amit Shah told the Lok Sabha, “After elections [next year], soon census and delimitation exercise will take place. After this, there will be 1/3 women in this house.”
Setting the tone of the debate, former Congress president Sonia Gandhi made a strong pitch for bringing OBC women in the ambit of the proposed law and asserting that any delay in bringing the reservation into effect would be “gross injustice” to women.
“For the last 13 years, Indian women have been waiting for their political responsibilities, and now they are being asked to wait for a few more years —two years, four years, six years, eight years,” the former Congress chief said
Intervening in the debate, Home Minister Amit Shah brushed aside apprehensions of a delay in the implementation of the proposed law and asserted. Shah indicated that women’s reservation will become a reality after 2029.
Bill incomplete without OBC quota: Rahul
Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said in Lok Sabha (LS) that he supports the women’s reservation bill but lamented that the measure was “incomplete” as it lacks quota for OBCs. Participating in the debate in LS, he also said the President should have been invited for transfer of proceedings from the old to the new Parliament building. He also pushed for a caste census. He also said a huge step in the transfer of power to women was Panchayati Raj and the present bill was another big step.
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