The Congress on Wednesday hit out at the government over the women’s reservation bill brought by it, saying the only appropriate description of what Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done with the matter is ”it is a post-dated cheque drawn on a failing bank”.
The constitutional amendment bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday. It was the first bill introduced in the new Parliament building. The bill provides for 33 per cent reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies.
According to the bill, it will come into effect after the delimitation of Lok Sabha constituencies to be carried out after the completion of the next population census.
In a post on X, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said, ”On women’s reservation — a brief comparison of the Niti and Niyat of the governments in 2010 and 2023. Both Bills introduce one-third reservation for women in LS and State Assemblies. Both Bills have quota within quota for women belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.” ”The key difference is the implementation of women’s reservation in the 2010 Bill was supposed to be immediate and without conditions unlike in the 2023 Bill — where the conditions of Census (that has not been held yet) and a delimitation (that is very contentious) have been added to shift the implementation to an unknown and complicated future,” he said.
Ramesh also shared timelines of the women’s reservation bills of the Congress-led UPA government and the current dispensation to suggest a difference in the functioning of parliamentary democracy then and now.
”May 06, 2008: Bill Introduced in Rajya Sabha. May 09, 2008: Bill referred to Standing Committee. December 17, 2009: Standing Committee report submitted. February, 2010: Union Cabinet approves the Women’s Reservation Bill. March 9, 2010: Bill passed in Rajya Sabha,” he said.
”In the case of the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam. It was introduced yesterday i.e. September 19, 2023 in the new Parliament building, after a Cabinet meeting on September 18, 2023 before the commencement of an urgently called Special Session. The Bill is likely to be passed in both Houses soon, all in the space of a few days,” Ramesh said.
He said the ”conclusion” is that the prime minister could have gotten the women’s reservation bill passed nine years earlier with the 2010 bill that had already been scrutinised by a standing committee, instead of calling it ‘Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam’ 2023. But he never had the intention to do it, Ramesh added.
”He (PM) thought of Nari Shakti ONLY when his and his party’s electoral prospects started dimming by the day. He demonstrates tremendous urgency in passing the Bill but has found a jumla mechanism to ensure it is NOT implemented for the 2024 elections,” the Congress general secretary said.
”In April 1942, Mahatma Gandhi famously said of the British offer of Indian independence after the end of World War II, ‘it is a post-dated cheque drawn on a failing bank’. This is the only and appropriate description of what the prime minister has done with women’s reservation,” Ramesh said.