In a legislative landmark, both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha have passed the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam or Women's Reservation Bill which reserves 33 percent of seats in the Lok Sabha and state legislative Assemblies for women.
Over 215 Rajya Sabha MPs voted in favour of the bill on Thursday, 21 September, with zero Nos and zero Abstentions. On Wednesday, the bill was passed in the Lok Sabha with 454 MPs voting in favour of it.
Introducing the 128th Constitution Amendment Bill, Meghwal recounted the measures initiated by the Narendra Modi-led BJP government for the empowerment of women over the past nine years.
While the bill was supported by most of the parties, several Congress and Opposition MPs demanded a sub-quota for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) as well as implementation of the legislation without long delays.
'Defining Moment': PM Modi After Passage of Bill
"A defining moment in our nation's democratic journey! Congratulations to 140 crore Indians. I thank all the Rajya Sabha MPs who voted for the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam. Such unanimous support is indeed gladdening," Prime Minister Modi tweeted after the bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha with a majority on Thursday.
"With the passage of the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam in Parliament, we usher in an era of stronger representation and empowerment for the women of India. This is not merely a legislation; it is a tribute to the countless women who have made our nation. India has been enriched by their resilience and contributions," he said.
Meanwhile, BJP chief JP Nadda thanked PM Modi for bringing the women's reservation bill in the Parliament.
"People might have different opinions about the names. But Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam is an identity of our Govt, our PM and our perspective on the women in society and it gives it a direction," Nadda said.
Attacking the Congress, Nadda said, "They talk about OBCs. It was the BJP that gave the country the first OBC PM and not the Congress."
Former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda recollected how it was his United Front Government that had introduced the bill in the Parliament in 1996.
"When I was the chief minister of Karnataka, I had brought this Bill in the Karnataka Assembly and the same was inttroduced in the Parliament when I became the PM," Deve Gowda said while addressing the Rajya Sabha.
What Opposition Leaders Said on the Bill
Congress president and Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge quoted poet Kabir's iconic 'kaal kare so aaj kar' couplet to attack the BJP over delays in implementing the women's reservation bill.
Kharge called on the government to amend the bill and allow 33 percent reservation for women in time for the 2024 general elections. At present the bill requires a census and a delimitation – neither likely to take place before 2029 – before it comes into effect.
"Amendment of this bill is not difficult... you (government) can do this now but have postponed it till 2031. What does this mean? When reservations (for women) can take place for panchayat polls and zilla panchayat polls, why not this also for women?" asked Kharge.
Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Derek O'Brien said that the Opposition-led 'INDIA' alliance was asking the government to implement the Women's Reservation bill in 2024.
"All you need to do is bring this in 2024 and remove 334 A from your existing Bill. We will start in 2024," O'Brien said.
"If you find it difficult to do, here's another solution, at least try: 2024 – an open challenge from my party, you bring one-third of women elected from your party and show us. Bring, and show us," he demanded.
"It was Congress who gave the first woman PM, woman President, woman Lok Sabha Speaker, and woman Governor but the BJP is trying to become champions of women's rights. Why is the BJP running away from caste census if they care about OBCs."Congress MP KC Venugopal
Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Priyanka Chaturvedi asked, "I want to ask what is stopping you? Which part of the Constitution is stopping you from its immediate implementation?"
What Does the Bill State?
The bill will come into effect after the first delimitation or redrawing of constituencies, which is likely to take place in 2027.
The bill assures 33 percent or 181 seats for women to be reserved in the Lok Sabha and the state legislative assemblies.
The reservation will be in place only for 15 years after the bill becomes an Act.
Within seats reserved for SC/STs, one-third will be reserved for women within these categories.
Presently, the Lok Sabha has 14.94 percent women MPs, while 14.05 per cent women MPs make up the Rajya Sabha.
What next? Now that the Bill has been passed in both houses of the Parliament, it will become an Act once it gets the assent of President Droupadi Murmu.