New Delhi: In a historic moment, the Lok Sabha, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, passed the long-awaited Women’s Reservation Bill.
This significant legislative step marks a milestone in Prime Minister Modi's leadership and a landmark achievement for gender equality in Indian politics.
It was a momentous occasion when the Women’s Reservation Bill, first introduced in Parliament 27 years ago, finally made its way through the Lok Sabha.
This constitutional amendment aims to bolster women's representation in India's legislative bodies, a move long-awaited by women across the nation.
With 454 members of the Lok Sabha backing the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Eighth) Bill 2023, the requirement for a "two-thirds majority of the members present and voting" was effortlessly met.
Notably, only two members, Asaduddin Owaisi and Syed Imtiyaz Jaleel of the All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen, opposed the Bill.
The Women’s Reservation Bill is now headed to the Rajya Sabha for further deliberation and approval, and it may also require ratification by half of the Indian states.
While the bill's passage in the Lok Sabha signifies a significant step forward, its ultimate enactment hinges on the Rajya Sabha's verdict and the support it garners from various states.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, taking to social media, hailed the passage of this bill as "historic legislation" that will catalyze greater female participation in the political sphere. He extended his gratitude to MPs from all political parties who lent their support to the bill.
The Women’s Reservation Bill's journey through the Indian legislative process has been a protracted one. It was first introduced in the Rajya Sabha in 2008 during the tenure of the UPA government led by Dr. Manmohan Singh.
While it successfully passed the Rajya Sabha in 2010, it never reached the Lok Sabha for consideration until now.
Despite the bill's monumental passage, the Opposition has raised concerns and demanded its immediate implementation, advocating for a sub-quota for Other Backward Classes (OBCs). They argue that the bill should be enacted before the next general elections.
One significant point of contention is the potential delay in implementing the Women’s Reservation Bill. The bill can only be enacted after the first delimitation of constituencies following its passage, a process likely to occur in 2027, as delimitation typically aligns with the national census.
Consequently, the bill may not come into effect until 2029. This delay has fueled calls for its prompt implementation, particularly with an OBC sub-quota.
During the parliamentary debate, prominent leaders voiced their opinions. Congress parliamentary party chief Sonia Gandhi lamented the extended wait, stating, "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."
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi questioned the need for a new census and delimitation, suggesting that the bill could be implemented sooner. He raised concerns about a potential seven to eight-year delay.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah assured that both delimitation and the census would begin after the next general election, emphasising the need for bipartisan support to pass the bill. He urged Parliament to rise above partisan politics to grant women the respect they deserve.
The passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill in the Lok Sabha marks a significant milestone in Indian politics, offering hope for greater female representation in legislative bodies. As the bill proceeds to the Rajya Sabha and faces potential challenges, the nation awaits its final fate.
Prime Minister Modi's words resonate: the bill is a historic legislation that will further empower women and enhance their participation in the political process, a testament to India's commitment to gender equality and women's rights.