According to sources, the Union cabinet approved a bill this evening that would guarantee that women will be given 33% of the seats in the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies. The government has not yet made a formal announcement and skipped the briefing that is usually held following the cabinet meeting.
The prime minister’s statement earlier today that “historic decisions” would be made in this extraordinary session had stoked curiosity in the meeting.
Expectations were raised by a few significant meetings that had already taken place, including that between BJP president JP Nadda and Home Minister Amit Shah, as well as Ministers of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal and Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi.
There were speculations that the cabinet might approve anything, including a change to the name of the country, a reservation for women or Other Backward Classes, and “One Nation One Election.”
Government skipped the expected briefing
After the meeting, there were hopes for clarity, but the tension persisted when the government skipped the expected briefing. Soon after, sources revealed that the rumours regarding the women’s reservation bill’s approval were accurate.
The measure, which was created in 2008, has been on hold ever since the Rajya Sabha approved it in 2010. In the lower house, it was never brought up.
Despite the fact that the BJP and the Congress have always backed the legislation, there have been obstacles in the shape of resistance from other parties and requests for a backward class quota inside the women’s quota.
Opposition leaders have advocated for women’s reservation prior to the start of the Parliamentary session. Likewise did the Nationalist Congress Party’s Ajit Pawar group. At the Sunday all-party meeting, the parties had pushed hard for it. The subject came up again on Day One of the Special session’s proceedings.
Parliamentary Journey of 75 years
Speaking at a panel discussion titled “Parliamentary Journey of 75 years Starting from Samvidhan Sabha – Achievements, Experiences, Memories and Learnings,” Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge cited the imbalanced gender ratio, claiming that only 14% of parliament is made up of women, and that only 10% of legislative assemblies are made up of women.
Supriya Sule of the Nationalist Congress Party responded forcefully to the BJP’s criticism of the Congress by stating that she would like to “set the record straight” over the matter.
“The first woman president of India, Pratibha Patil, was from the Congress, the first woman PM of the country, Indira Gandhi, was from the Congress, the first woman speaker, Meira Kumar, was from the Congress,” she said.
“I would like to put one more thing on record which Rakesh Singh seems to have missed out. The Women’s Reservation Bill was brought by the Congress, unfortunately we did not have the numbers and we could not get it passed,” she added.