• Saturday, June 15, 2024

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Modi cabinet clears women reservation bill: sources

Reservation of seats in the parliament and state legislatures has been a burning topic in Indian politics over the years.

(ANI Photo)

By: Shubham Ghosh

IN a significant development, a bill to ensure reservation of 33 per cent seats for women in the Lok Sabha or Lower House of the Indian parliament and state-level legislatures was reportedly cleared by the federal cabinet on Monday (18) evening. Prime minister Narendra Modi chaired the meeting.

The bill is likely to be tabled in the parliament in the coming days.

While the Modi government was yet to make an official announcement about it, federal minister of state for food processing industries and Jal Shakti (water power) Prahlad Singh Patel said in a post in Hindi on X, formerly called Twitter, “Only the Modi government had the moral courage to fulfill the demand for women’s reservation. Which was proved by the approval of the cabinet. Congratulations @narendramodi ji and congratulations to the Modi government”.

He deleted the post later.

The meeting which took place during a special session of the parliament convened by the government had generated curiosity, particularly in view of Modi’s remark made earlier in the day that “historic decisions” would be taken during the session, NDTV reported.

Some high-profile ministers met earlier today, including commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal and parliamentary affairs minister Prahlad Joshi meeting home minister Amit Shah and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s national president JP Nadda.

Speculation was rife that the cabinet might clear anything from reservation for women or Other Backward Classes, ‘One Nation One Election’ or even changing the name of the country from India to Bharat.

While people were still looking for clear answers, sources confirmed that the speculation about approving women’s reservation was not off the mark.

The bill, which was drawn up when the Indian National Congress-led United Progressive Alliance was in power, has remained frozen since it was passed by the Rajya Sabha or Upper House of the Indian parliament in 2010. It was never introduced in the Lok Sabha.

While the Congress and BJP — the two national parties — have backed the key bill, other parties put up resistance and demands for a quota for backward classes within the women’s quota created obstacles on the way of fulfilling the goal.

However, there was also an exchange of words between the parties over the reservation of women’s seats. While Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge spoke about a skewed gender ratio, saying the parliament has only 14 per cent women while their percentage in the legislative assemblies stood at just 10 and the BJP hit back, top Nationalist Congress Party leader Supriya Sule said, “The first woman president of India, Pratibha Patil, was from the Congress, the first woman PM of the country, Indira Gandhi, was from the Congress, the first woman speaker, Meira Kumar, was from the Congress,” she said.

“I would like to put one more thing on record which Rakesh Singh seems to have missed out. The Women’s Reservation Bill was brought by the Congress, unfortunately we did not have the numbers and we could not get it passed,” she added.

Sonia Gandhi, a Congress parliamentarian and its former president, was elated after the bill introduced by the government led by her party in 2010 was passed in the upper chamber and when the Modi government took charge in 2014, she said her party would put pressure on it to pass the bill.

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