NEW DELHI: The government on Tuesday introduced a Constitution amendment bill seeking to reserve one-third seats in Parliament and state legislatures for women, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi throwing his full weight behind the radical measure and raising the prospect for its passage in Parliament by September 22 when the special session comes to an end.
Referring to the failure of several efforts made by previous governments to promulgate women’s quota to correct the persisting gender imbalance in legislatures, Modi said, “The dream has remained unfulfilled. It seems that God has chosen me for the sacred task of empowering women and leveraging their power.
“I congratulate all mothers, sisters and daughters of the country for the Nari Shakti Vandan Bill, and I assure them that we are committed to ensure that this legislation becomes law.”
Women’s Reservation Bill: ‘God has chosen me for this…’, says PM Modi in new Parliament
Appealing for unanimous support, the PM said, “A bill passed with unanimous backing will be so much more powerful.” His exhortation came even as Congress vied for credit for the legislation, and BJD, JD(U) and Trinamool Congress emphasised their credentials as being the first movers in the field of women’s empowerment, and familiar antagonists appeared to be holding out.
Modi linked the introduction of the bill to the importance of the occasion – Parliament holding its first meeting in the new building, something that should ensure that the women’s quota bill goes down in the annals as the first legislation to have received parliamentary imprimatur. “On this historic occasion, in the first sitting in the new building, let us herald a change by joining hands and opening up new avenues for women’s power,” he said, adding that by enhancing women’s participation in public life, the “bill would deepen democracy’s roots”.
The PM said the bill, first introduced in 1996, was taken up by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government many times but the numbers were not adequate and the dream remained unfulfilled. “For several years, there has been a discussion about women’s reservation and several controversies also took place… Once again, our government has taken a step in this direction,” Modi said.
Speaking in the
later, the PM said the government was striving to ensure ease of living and quality of life. “When we talk about ease of living and quality of life, the first claim of that ease belongs to women since they bear all the problems. That’s why our effort and responsibility is to see that they have their share in nation building,” he said.
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PM: Time of ifs & buts in women’s lives is over
Mentioning measures taken by his government for the benefit of women, Modi said women were allowed to work in mines and all Sainik Schools were opened for girls. “The potential of women should get opportunities. The time of ‘ifs and buts’ in their lives is over. The more opportunities that our sisters and mothers get, they will display their strength,” he said.
Modi spoke about flagship government initiatives which have empowered women, including ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’, abolition of triple talaq, financial inclusion, Mudra and Ujjwala schemes.
The implementation of the bill, however, will take time and will not come into force for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections as a delimitation exercise has to be completed before that.
Junior minister for parliamentary affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal said women’s reservation 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.
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TMC questions President’s absence
Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Tuesday asked the government why President Droupadi Murmu was not invited to the last function at the Central Hall to bid farewell to the old Parliament building and move to the new one.
“Where was the President during today’s event at the Central Hall (of the old Parliament building)? Was she invited? Why was she ignored?” TMC leader Derek O’Brien said.
“On a day, that the Prime Minister brought in the women’s reservation bill, talked about minorities, downtrodden, tribals… they insulted the President by keeping her out of the function…” O’Brien said after the function at the Central Hall.
Opposition parties had earlier objected to the President not being invited for the inauguration of the new Parliament building in May, which was boycotted by most of them.
Watch: BJP women workers celebrate introduction of Women’s Reservation Bill in Lok Sabha