Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress president and Leader of Opposition (LoP) in Rajya Sabha, announced on Wednesday that the Opposition is ready to fully cooperate in the upcoming debate on the Women’s Reservation Bill. However, he questioned the “intentions” of the Central government in introducing the bill, alleging that it is being publicized with an eye on elections.
Kharge highlighted that the Central government should prioritize the implementation of the bill and address any loopholes or shortcomings. He pointed out that a similar bill had been passed in the Rajya Sabha in 2010 but failed to pass in the Lok Sabha, emphasizing that this is not a new proposal. He expressed skepticism about the timing of the bill, suggesting it may be politically motivated.
“We will insist that women’s reservation has to be brought, and we will fully cooperate. But the loopholes and drawbacks should be rectified,” Kharge stated.
In a related critique, Congress MP Pramod Tiwari criticized the government for not including women from the backward and Scheduled Caste (SC) communities in the current bill. He called on the government to pass the 2010 Bill in the Lok Sabha and initiate the reservation process. Tiwari even challenged the BJP, saying, “If BJP’s policy and intention are honest, then give a guarantee that women will get a reservation in the 2024 elections – we will stand with you with all our strength.”
Tiwari emphasized the importance of including women from backward and SC communities in any women’s reservation initiative, highlighting the need for honesty in policy implementation.
Responding to certain provisions of the bill, Congress General Secretary in charge of Communications Jairam Ramesh expressed skepticism about the government’s intentions, suggesting that if Prime Minister Narendra Modi genuinely prioritized women’s empowerment, the Women’s Reservation Bill would have already been implemented. He criticized the bill as mere election rhetoric without concrete action.
Meanwhile, Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal acknowledged the Women’s Reservation Bill as “good” and clarified that the party was not criticizing the introduction of the “Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam.” He emphasized that the party seeks clarification from the government on certain aspects of the bill.
The bill, introduced by Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, is set for discussion in the House today. If passed, it is expected to increase the number of seats reserved for women in Lok Sabha to 181.
The Women’s Reservation Bill is seen as a historic step towards gender equality in Indian politics and is the subject of intense debate as it moves through the parliamentary process.