There would be a minimum addition of 100 Lok Sabha seats from the current 78 MPs in the House of 543 if the quota is enforced.
The first day in the new Parliament building has proved to be a significant one with a bill, long-pending, finally tabled in the Lok Sabha and finding unanimous support from all parties.
The 128th Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2023, providing for a third (33 per cent) of seats in the Lok Sabha and all state Assemblies to be reserved for women, is not a new one; being first tabled in 1996 by Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda in his brief tenure. It lapsed after the dissolution of the house. After an encore during the tenure of the Vajpayee government in 1998, and again in 2002, it was left to the Congress Party in 2008 to table it in Rajya Sabha. It was passed by the Rajya Sabha in 2010 but lapsed in 2014.
While most political parties have voiced support in public fora and media platforms, most of the parties, gripped by the vicious power of self-sustaining patriarchy, ensured it remained a political, emotive and electoral issue, a promise to make but not to keep.
It was left to the PM Narendra Modi-led BJP government to finally muster the courage and table it in the Lok Sabha, with some changes, from the version the Congress tabled in the Rajya Sabha nearly 15 years ago. Due process will now follow, and the bill, after the next round of census (scheduled and likely in 2031) and delimitation, will make it possible for the reserved seats to be identified, notified and enforced.
There would be a minimum addition of 100 Lok Sabha seats from the current 78 MPs in the House of 543 if the quota is enforced. The temporary bill, which will lapse after 15 years, is bound to enhance the intensity, maturity and quality of our Houses and the laws discussed and passed.
India needs more women leaders and this bill can and will fulfil that goal. Of course, while processes must be followed, the government must also understand and appreciate the concerns of many stakeholders that, having been delayed long enough, the bill must become a reality as quickly as possible in a lawful manner.