Lok Sabha Passes Historic Women’s Reservation Bill with Overwhelming Support
Opposition Calls for Delinking from Delimitation and OBC Quota; Home Minister Promises to Address Concerns
New Delhi: After a long and arduous journey spanning nearly three decades, the Lok Sabha, under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, witnessed a historic moment on September 20th. In a near-unanimous vote, the Lok Sabha passed a landmark constitutional amendment bill to provide one-third reservation to women in both the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies. This significant step marks a watershed moment in the realm of Indian politics and women’s empowerment.
A 27-Year Wait Ends: The Women’s Reservation Bill Gets Lok Sabha Approval
After twenty-seven years since its initial introduction in Parliament, the Lok Sabha, on September 20, 2023, passed the Women’s Reservation Bill with near unanimity. The bill seeks to amend the Constitution to provide one-third reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies, a move aimed at empowering women and fostering their greater participation in the political process.
The bill now heads to the Rajya Sabha for consideration during the remaining two days of the Special Session of Parliament. To become law, it may also require approval from at least half of the States. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, recognising the historic significance of this legislation, expressed his gratitude to Lok Sabha members through his social media platform, X (formerly Twitter). He praised MPs from various political parties who supported the bill.
Overwhelming Support: Only Two Votes Against the Bill
With an impressive 454 members of the Lok Sabha supporting the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Eighth) Bill 2023, the constitutional requirement of achieving a “two-thirds majority of the members present and voting” was easily met. Only two members, Asaduddin Owaisi and Syed Imtiyaz Jaleel of the All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen, opposed the bill. The voting process, during which Prime Minister Modi was present, took nearly two hours, with members casting their votes manually using paper slips.
The Road to Passage: Decades of Efforts
The journey of the Women’s Reservation Bill has been long and arduous. It was first introduced in the Rajya Sabha by the UPA government led by Manmohan Singh in 2008, and it successfully passed in 2010. However, it never made it to the Lok Sabha for consideration. The bill’s passage in the Lok Sabha marks a significant turning point in its legislative history.
The OBC Quota Debate and Delimitation Concerns
While the bill’s passage is celebrated as a historic achievement, it comes with certain challenges and concerns. The bill’s implementation is contingent upon the first delimitation of constituencies following its passage, expected around 2027, as delimitation is conducted after each census. This means the bill may not be fully effective until 2029.
This potential delay has raised concerns among opposition parties, who are demanding urgent implementation of the bill, along with a sub-quota for Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
In Parliament, Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi expressed their reservations about the delay. Sonia Gandhi remarked, “Indian women have been waiting for their political responsibilities for the last 13 years, and now they are being asked to wait for a few more years.” Rahul Gandhi questioned the need for a new census and delimitation, suggesting that the bill could be implemented immediately.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, however, clarified that both delimitation and census activities would commence after the next general election and urged all parties to support the bill without partisan politics, emphasising the importance of giving women the respect they deserve.
Prime Minister Modi’s Optimism and Gratitude
Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the passage of the bill with overwhelming support and expressed his appreciation for MPs across party lines. He referred to the bill as a “historic legislation” that would boost women’s empowerment and enhance their participation in the political process.
The passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill in the Lok Sabha is indeed a significant stride towards gender equality in Indian politics. As it moves forward to the Rajya Sabha and undergoes further deliberation, it remains a focal point of national attention, embodying the aspirations of millions of women in India for greater representation in the political arena.