Caste census to delimitation: Highlights on Women Reservation Bill debate

Sonia Gandhi leads the debate, parties try to claim credit for Bill, MPs call for caste census and question role of delimitation

Sonia Gandhi, Congress MP

Congress MP Sonia Gandhi at the Parliament House during a special session (Photo: PTI)

BS Web Team New Delhi
During the third day of the Special Parliament Session and the second day in the new parliament building, members of parliament (MPs) took the floor to debate the Women's Reservation Bill.

This has nothing to do with politics: Union minister Meghwal

In Lok Sabha, Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal introduced the Women's Reservation Bill, emphasising its significance in empowering women. He assured a day-long discussion and urged that the deliberations should not be politicised.

Ahead of the session, he told the media, "Discussion will be done throughout the day. It will begin at 11 and it has been scheduled to continue till 6 pm...This has nothing to do with politics."

Yes to women quotes, but with immediate effect: Congress' Sonia Gandhi

Sonia Gandhi led the debate on the Women's Reservation Bill in the Lok Sabha. While she expressed her support for the Bill, Gandhi demanded that it be immediately implemented.

She stated, "I stand here in support of Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam." Gandhi added, "The immediate implementation of the women's reservation bill by removing all obstacles not only necessary but also possible."

Sonia Gandhi stressed the importance of including Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), and Other Backward Classes (OBC) women in the reservation following a caste census. She deemed any delay in implementing the reservation as a "gross injustice" to Indian women.

"Rajiv Gandhi's dream is only half fulfilled. It will be fulfilled with the passage of this Bill. The Congress supports this Bill. We will be happy with the passage of this Bill, but we also have a concern. I want to ask a question, 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.

Following Gandhi's statements, Amit Shah took the floor, stating everyone has a right to be concerned about the well-being of women in the country.

Trinamool Congress' Sougata Roy also submitted an amendment seeking a quota within the quota for OBC women in the Women's Reservation Bill.

This is not a Congress Bill: BJP's Nishikant Dubey

BJP's Nishikant Dubey responded to Sonia Gandhi by crediting Geeta Mukherjee and Sushma Swaraj for advocating women's reservation for a long time.

Dubey stated, "This is not Congress' Bill as Sonia Gandhi is trying to claim. Geeta Mukherjee from West Bengal and BJP's Sushma Swaraj have rallied for women's reservation for a long time."

He added, "What Modi starts he finishes. The same will occur with the women's quota bill."

Bill is shrouded in secrecy: DMK's Kanimozhi Karunanidhi

Kanimozhi Karunanidhi from the DMK responded by stating, "I thought we would pass this bill with unity, but BJP has made it its own thing."

Kanimozhi also went on to highlight that the delimitation clause could undermine the Bill's purpose and urged for equal respect and representation for women. She also went on to question the government on how the Bill was drafted.

Kanimozhi said, "They said that they have to involve all stakeholders, political parties and then build a consensus before bringing the Bill. I would like to know what consensus was built. What discussions were held. This Bill was brought shrouded in secrecy. We did not know what this session was called for..."

Why is delimitation linked with women's quota?: TMC's Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar

TMC's Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar also raised questions regarding the delimitation process as it would delay the implementation of the Bill. She claimed this move would result in more representation from states with poor population control and poor representation of women. Dastidar also took the opportunity to point out that West Bengal was the only state with a female chief minister.

She said, "West Bengal is the only state in the country which has a female chief minister. We are actually delighted to witness the realisation of our leader Mamata Banerjee's vision where women's rightful entitlements are being recognised."

A call for caste census: BSP's Sangeeta Azad

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)'s Sangeeta Azad also supported fot the Bill but demanded representation for SC, ST, and OBCs within the women's quota. She also called for a caste census and hoped the presentation of the Bill was not an election gimmick.

First Published: Sep 20 2023 | 7:07 PM IST

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