Women Reservation Bill: The historic Women's Reservation Bill -- Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam -- to provide 33 per cent quota in Lok Sabha and state assemblies has been passed in Lok Sabha. It's the first bill which was tabled in the New Parliament building and was passed to empower women in the country's electoral process.
The bill was passed after a day-long debate with 454 votes in favour and two against it. It will be tabled in Rajya Sabha on Thursday.
Earlier during the discussion on the Women Reservation Bill, Home Minister Amit Shah said that the for some parties this bill would have been a political issue but for his party, government and his leader Prime Minister Narendra Modi, this is about empowering the women.
Congress supports Bill, but demands immediate implementation
During the debate, various members from the opposition questioned that government's intention for bringing the bill citing its timing for implementation after the census and delimitation exercise.
Many MPs including Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, others also questioned the government for not including women from Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
Expressing support for the women's reservation bill in Lok Sabha, Rahul Gandhi batted for its immediate implementation and said that the legislation is "incomplete" without provision for quota for OBCs.
Participating in a discussion on the bill, Gandhi also made a strong pitch for a caste census.
He claimed that out of 90 secretaries of the government of India, only three are from the Other Backward Classes (OBC) and control only five per cent of the Budget, which he said was an "insult" to the backward classes.
Recalling the discussion on Sengol and the transfer of power from the British, the former Congress chief said the revolutionary answer that the freedom movement leaders gave to the British was that the transfer of power was to the people of India.
"It's been a constant transfer of power, more and more and more power to the people of India on one side and the other side, the counter idea that takes away power from the people of India," Gandhi said.
"This is the fight that is going on. And in fact, in many ways, it is the fight that is taking place today. A huge step forward in the transfer of power to the women of India was Panchayati Raj, where they were given reservation and they were allowed to enter the political system at scale.
"And this (bill) is another step. It's a big step, it's is not a small step," the former Congress president said.
"There is one thing in my view that makes this bill incomplete. I would like to have seen the OBC reservation included in this bill," he said.
Gandhi said, "I think it is very important that a large chunk of India's population, a large chunk of India's women should have access to this reservation and that is missing in this bill."
Support it, pass it, will add missing points later, says Amit Shah
Union Home Minister Amit Shah appealed to the opposition to support the bill adding that if there would be any shortcomings, they can be rectified at a later date.
Responding to Opposition members in Lok Sabha, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said, "After elections, soon census and delimitation exercise will take place. After this, there will be 1/3rd women in this House."
The Modi government has been pushing for empowerment of women since the day it assumed office, he said.
Women's security, respect and equal participation have been life force of the government, he said.
Shah said this was the fifth attempt to push a bill for women's reservation.
"Why did it fail to clear hurdles earlier? First it was brought by H D Deve Gowda government in 1996. It lapsed. Second time, it was brought by the government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee. In 2008, a bill was brought by UPA. It also lapsed after the dissolution of the then Lok Sabha.
"Women have been disappointed by this Parliament on four occasions. This time I request that it be passed with unanimity. Shortcomings, if any, can be set right at a later date," the home minister said.
With inputs from PTI