RS unites to clear women’s quota bill

The Asian Age.

India, All India

All members of Upper House vote in favour

View of the Rajya Sabha during division for the passage of the Women's Reservation Bill in the special session of the Parliament, in New Delhi, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023. (PTI Photo)

New Delhi: The Women's Reservation Bill 2023, or the 'Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam,' was unanimously passed by the Rajya Sabha on Thursday, with all 215 members present in the house voting in favour of the bill.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was present in the House, expressed gratitude for the sentiments expressed during the discussions and urged the Upper House to pass the bill unanimously.

Cutting across party lines, Rajya Sabha members supported the bill to provide 33 per cent reservation for women in the Lower House of Parliament and state Assemblies, even as some Opposition members termed it an election gimmick.

The bill had been passed by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday through a voice vote.

Concluding the debate in the Rajya Sabha, Modi remarked that fruitful discussions and debates were conducted in both Houses for the past two days, with roughly 132 Members voicing their opinions.

"Every word in this discussion has its own significance and meaning," the Prime Minister said, emphasising that these meaningful discussions will be extremely useful in the nation's upcoming Parliamentary journey.

He said that the bill is not just a show of respect for women's power but also an infusion of new energy into the women's power of our country through the positive thinking of all political parties towards this bill. He further added that the bill will become a guarantee of India's bright future, as it will step forward with leadership and contribute to nation-building with new confidence.

Replying to the debate, law minister Arjun Ram Meghwal said that most of the Members who spoke today supported the Bill and clarified that its implementation would be possible only after the Delimitation Commission identifies the constituencies. He also affirmed, "Modi hai To Mumkin Hai (If Modi is here, it is possible)."

Earlier in the day, the bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha, while in the Lok Sabha, Prime Minister Modi expressed heartfelt gratitude to all the members for their wholehearted support for the passage of the women's reservation bill.

Introducing the 128th Constitution Amendment Bill in the Upper House of Parliament, law minister Meghwal recounted the measures initiated by the Narendra Modi government for the empowerment of women over the last nine years.

The Upper House also witnessed BJP member and the party's national president J.P. Nadda and his counterpart in the Congress and also the leader of Opposition, Mallikarjun Kharge, engaging in a debate after the latter demanded that the government should implement the bill immediately and not wait for the Census and the Delimitation.

"Kaal kare so aaj kar aaj kare so ab…." Kharge quoted a couplet of Kabir.

Stressing that the government will go by the rules and the bill is not for political gain, Mr. Nadda said that if implemented without following the due process, it would be in violation of parliamentary procedure and could face legal complications.

"The procedure being followed by the government for the bill is the only way, the shortest way, the correct way," said Nadda.

TMC MP Derek O'Brien supported the bill but criticized the government's approach, stating, "But when will this government learn that this is a parliamentary democracy and not an army commando operation where you need secrecy, surprise, and stealth. You need cooperation and sharing."

The TMC MP also demanded the removal of Article 334A, which the bill seeks to introduce, and immediate implementation of women's reservation from 2024.

Article 334A states that the reservation shall come into effect after the delimitation is undertaken after the relevant figures for the first census have been published.

Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachchan said her party supports the women's reservation bill but demanded that women belonging to Other Backward Classes and the Muslim community be included in it.

Speaking in the House, Ms Bachchan said, "I request on behalf of my party, reservation under reservation... I support 20 per cent and 15 per cent of seats reserved for women belonging to other backward classes, especially the Muslim minority and women belonging to minority communities out of the total number of seats reserved for women and to be filled by direct election of the legislative assembly of the National Capital Territory of Delhi and others."

Priyanka Chaturvedi of Shiv Sena (UBT) sought immediate implementation of the bill and demanded that reservations for women should also be brought to the Rajya Sabha.

Several other MPs from different parties voiced their support for the bill during the discussion.