Congress Parliamentary Party chairperson Sonia Gandhi will be the lead speaker of the party for the debate on the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam or women’s reservation bill in Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
The women’s reservation bill, which aims to reserve one-third of seats in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies for women, was tabled in the first sitting of Lok Sabha in the new Parliament building by Union law minister Arjun Ram Meghwal on Tuesday.
Introducing the amendment, Meghawal said the number of women members in the 543-member Lok Sabha will rise to 181, from 82 currently, after the law comes into force. The bill has proposed that the reservation will continue for a period of 15 years and there will be a one-third quota for women also within the seats reserved for SC/STs.
The reservation of “as nearly as may be, one-third of the total number of seats to be filled by direct election” will come into effect after a delimitation exercise is undertaken and will continue for 15 years. Seats reserved for women will be rotated after each subsequent delimitation exercise, according to the bill.
The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023, was listed for introduction in the Lower House through a supplementary list of business.
Earlier in the day, Modi made a strong pitch for the women’s reservation bill saying that his government is committed to ensuring that the bill aimed at expanding women’s participation in the parliament and state assemblies becomes a law, as he urged MPs of both houses of parliament to pass the bill unanimously.
However, the Congress termed the bill as an “election jhumla” and a “huge betrayal of hopes of women”. “The women’s reservation bill is a ‘poll jhumla’ as the Modi government is yet to conduct the 2021 Census and has said that it will come into effect only after that: It is a huge betrayal of hopes of crores of Indian women and girls,” news agency PTI quoted the Congress as saying.
Jairam Ramesh wondered whether the Census and delimitation will be done before the 2024 elections, pointing out that the Modi government has not yet conducted the 2021 decadal Census. KC Venugopal said unlike the UPA’s women’s reservation bill that immediately gave women 33 per cent reservation, the NDA’s women’s reservation will kick-in only after a census and delimitation process.
The five-day special session of Parliament was called by the government last month taking the opposition by surprise. The decision was announced by parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi. The special session of Parliament will conclude on Friday.
(With inputs from agencies)