Sonia Gandhi asks PM Modi to pass Women's Reservation Bill

The writer is a syndicated columnist and a former member of India’s Rajya Sabha

The writer is a syndicated columnist and a former member of India’s Rajya Sabha

Congress president Sonia Gandhi has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to get the women's reservation bill passed in the Lok Sabha taking advantage of the BJP's majority in the House.

Pledging her party's support to the women's reservation bill, Sonia reminded the PM that in 1989 former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi tried to push quota for women in the local bodies but the move was thwarted in the Rajya Sabha and the party could succeed in getting it parliamentary approval in 1993 through the 73rd and the 74th constitution amendments.

Gandhi's letter to Modi, dated Wednesday, requesting Modi to use his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's majority in Lok Sabha to pass the Women's Reservation Bill, was released to the media Thursday.

The Women's Reservation Bill that was passed by the Upper House in 2011, remains pending ever since in the Lok Sabha for some or the other reason.

In a letter addressed to the PM, Sonia requested him to "take advantage" of the BJP's majority in the lower house of Parliament to get the 21-year-old bill passed.

The bill has polarised the political class whenever attempts were made to introduce it later. Both the RJD and SP were then supporting the Congress-led government.

She also said that it was the Congress which initiated the process of reservation of women in panchayats and nagarpalikas. The Congress president Sonia Gandhi came into limelight with a stark message on women empowerment just ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. In fact, the UPA's common minimum programme of 2004 and 2009 included the Women's Bill.

However, the Women's Reservation Bill, which has seen two decades of relentless campaigning from diverse feminist groups to ensure wider and stronger representation of women in higher legislatures, thereby having a direct stake in law-making and policy directions, demands that we rise above petty politics. It will now need to be brought back in Lok Sabha as well as Rajya Sabha, where the PM's BJP is in a minority.

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