Published: Thu, September 21, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Sonia Gandhi asks PM Modi to pass Women's Reservation Bill

Sonia Gandhi asks PM Modi to pass Women's Reservation Bill

Congress President Sonia Gandhi has asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take advantage of his majority in the Lok sabha and pass the much-delayed Women's Reservation Bill that seeks to grant 33% quota to the fairer sex in Parliament and state legislatures.

She said the bills were "thwarted" by the opposition in 1989, but were passed by both the Houses of Parliament in 1993.

Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad and the then Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav had fiercely opposed the bill when the UPA government introduced it in Parliament in 2010. Curiously, Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress, which was then in power in West Bengal, didn't take an overt position on this.

Noting the Congress passed several key legislations like the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (2005), the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, the Sexual Harassment of Women at Work Place (Prevention and Protection) Act, 2013, the spokespersons said the party also installed women at top constitutional posts like president, prime minister and Speaker for the first time.

Currently, Lok Sabha has 62 women MPs out of the 543- a mere 11 percent.

A handful of images depicting women politicians from different political parties coming together to celebrate the passing of the Women's Reservation Bill in Rajya Sabha in 2010 are a testimony to the fact that this was always above partisan politics and its main struggle was against institutionalised patriarchy. Many leaders across the political lines believe that such a law will give an advantage to women who are better educated and come from upper castes. It will now need to be brought back in Lok Sabha as well as Rajya Sabha, where the PM's BJP is in a minority.

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