New Delhi, Sep 19: Even as the Women’s Reservation Bill is likely to be tabled in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, it will be the first litmus test for the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) bloc’s unity as many of the parties earlier have opposed the Bill in the present form.
According to sources, the Union Cabinet on Monday evening which was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the proposal of the Women’s Reservation Bill. The sources indicated that the Bill promising 33 per cent reservation to women in Parliament and Assemblies might be tabled during the afternoon on Tuesday in the Lok Sabha.
The Bill will be a litmus test for the INDIA bloc as earlier the parties like the Lalu Prasad-led Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Samajwadi Party had opposed the Bill in the present form.
Both the parties have demanded a quota for women from the backward classes within the 33 per cent quota.
Being a constitutional amendment, the Bill will require the support of two-thirds of the members in the Lok Sabha. It was part of the BJP’s election manifesto in 2014.
The passage of the Bill in Parliament comes at a time when the INDIA bloc during its third meeting in Mumbai on August 31 and September 1 had decided to hold the negotiations for a complex seat sharing formula at the state level for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
The RJD and the Samajwadi Party had withdrawn support from the Congress-led UPA government in 2010 after its passage in the Rajya Sabha. Thus the Bill could not be passed in the Lok Sabha in 2010.
However, the Left parties and the Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal-United had then supported the Bill.
Nitish Kumar’s decision to support the Bill after initially opposing it had led to fissures within the party.
Earlier in the day, Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) chairperson Sonia Gandhi reacting to the Women’s Reservation Bill said, “It is ours, ‘apna hai’.”
She gave a clear indication that the grand old party will stand in support of the Bill.
Congress Chief Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury in their address in the Parliament on Monday have demanded for the passage of the Bill.
The Congress, during its two-day Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting in Telangana’s Hyderabad, had passed a resolution seeking the passage of the Bill.
The Bill was first introduced 27 years ago by the H.D. Deve Gowda-led government through the introduction of the Constitution (81st Amendment) Bill, 1996 in the 11th Lok Sabha on September 12, 1996.
The Bill was then referred to the Joint Committee of the two Houses of Parliament.
The Committee presented its report to the Lok Sabha on December 9, 1996, but the Bill lapsed with the dissolution of the 11th Lok Sabha.
After that the Constitution Bill 84th amendment came up in 1998, again Constitution (85th Amendment) Bill in 1999, and at the time it could not be considered due to lack of political consensus.
The Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill, 2008 was passed by Rajya Sabha on March 9, 2010. The Bill was never presented in the Lower House.
On Monday, in a post on X, Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh said, “It’s been a long-standing demand of the Congress party to implement women’s reservation. We welcome the reported decision of the Union Cabinet and await the details of the Bill.”
“This could have very well been discussed in the all-party meeting before the Special Session, and consensus could have been built instead of operating under a veil of secrecy. The history behind the move is chronicled here,” he said, while replying to his post on Sunday about the Women’s Reservation Bill.
Ramesh, who is also Congress communication in-charge, shared the 2018 letter of former party chief Rahul Gandhi on Women’s Reservation Bill.
In a post on Twitter on July 16, 2018, Rahul Gandhi said, “Our Prime Minister says he’s a crusader for women’s empowerment? Time for him to rise above party politics, walk-his-talk & have the Women’s Reservation Bill passed by Parliament. The Congress offers him its unconditional support. Attached is my letter to the Prime Minister.”
He had also shared the copy of his letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi declaring his unconditional support for the Bill.