NEW DELHI: Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has urged PM Modi to pass the women’s reservation bill soon in an attempt to impress half the country’s electorate.
The bill, which grants 33 percent reservation to women in state assemblies and the Lok Sabha, was passed in the Rajya Sabha on March 9, 2010 when the previous UPA was in power. However, it could not be passed in the Lok Sabha as political parties were divided over the issue.
“I am writing to request you to take the advantage of your majority to get the Women’s reservation bill passed in the lower house as well,” Sonia said in her letter to the PM dated September 20, which was released to the media on Thursday.
Sources said Sonia moved fast over the issue as the party had feedback that the government was planning to make a forward move over the women’s reservation bill to score over the Opposition which has been slamming the centre over unemployment and economic slowdown.
In February this year, former union minister M Venkaiah Naidu, now vice president of India and chairman of the Rajya Sabha, had said the government will pass the women’s reservation bill once it had majority in the upper house of parliament.
To sound more convincing, the Congress also lined up a battery of women leaders including Mahila Congress chief Sushmita Dev, actor-turned politician Khushboo Sundar, former women’s wing chief Shobha Oza, MP Ranjeet Ranjan, Sharmishtha Mukherjee, Priyanka Chaturvedi and Vijaylaxmi Sadho who collectively made a strong pitch for the bill.
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.
Noting the Congress passed several key legislations like the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (2005), the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, the Sexual Harassment of Women at Work Place (Prevention and Protection) Act, 2013, the spokespersons said the party also installed women at top constitutional posts like president, prime minister and Speaker for the first time.