454-2: Women’s Reservation Bill gets Lok Sabha stamp, Rajya Sabha test today
60 lawmakers participated in the eight-hour-long debate, 27 of them women.
NEW DELHI: The Lok Sabha on Wednesday made history by passing the Women’s Reservation Bill by an overwhelming majority of 454 votes. Only two MPs voted against the bill that seeks to reserve one-third of seats for women in Parliament and all state assemblies.
While supporting the bill, the Opposition made a strong pitch for extending the quota to the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and the immediate implementation of the legislation in the upcoming 2024 elections. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present during the voting.
“The proposal has been passed with more than two-thirds majority of the members present in the House,” announced Speaker Om Birla after the vote. The bill will now go to the Rajya Sabha. Also, at least half of state assemblies have to ratify it to become law.
The bill will come into force only after the delimitation exercise which will be preceded by the decadal Census. Several women Parliamentarians participated in the eight-hour-long debate, which saw spirited exchanges from both camps.
Initiating the debate, Congress leader Sonia Gandhi made a strong pitch for caste census and bringing OBC women into the ambit of the law. She also urged the government to implement the quota immediately as any delay would be a “gross injustice” to women.
Dispelling the concerns of the Opposition, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the next government will conduct the Census and the delimitation exercise immediately after the elections and set in motion the process of reservation. Hinting that the bill will become a reality after 2029, Shah asserted that the BJP has given more representation to the OBCs than those claiming to speak for them.
“Nearly 29% or 85 BJP MPs, 29 Union ministers, and 365 of its 1,358 MLAs, which is over 27%, are from the OBC category,” Shah said.
Several Opposition leaders including DMK’s Kanimozhi, TMC’s Mahua Moitra NCP’s Supriya Sule demanded the immediate rollout of the quota. On the demand for immediate implementation, Shah said it could lead to allegations of partiality. He said that the matter was best left to the delimitation commission, which would carry out the exercise with transparency. AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi was the only MP who opposed the bill.
"It’s a big step. it’s not a small step... 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."
- Rahul Gandhi, Congress leader
"For the first time, it has been acknowledged in the House that it was not one particular family that got the bill for reservation for women in local bodies, but the government of Narasimha Rao."
- Smriti Irani, Union minister