The Lok Sabha on Wednesday, 20 September, passed the historic 'Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam' (NSVA) with 454 votes in favour and two against it. The Bill proposes to provide 33% reservation to women in the Parliament and the state Assemblies.
While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) parties called it a historic move, the Opposition parties demanded that a caste-based census be conducted in order to give reservation to SC/ST and OBC women.
The Opposition also demanded that the government implement the reservation immediately and not wait for the census and delimitation exercises as the Bill states.
What key leaders said on the Bill:
Opening the debate for the Opposition, Congress MP Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday morning said that the reservation must be implemented immediately.
"How many years will they wait? Two years? Four years? Six years? Eight years? Is this right? The Congress demands that this Bill be implemented immediately but there should be a caste census and the women of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, OBC must be given reservation too. The government should take all necessary steps for this," she said.
Union Minister Smriti Irani said that the Opposition is misleading the country on the Bill by demanding reservation for backward classes.
"The Congress had proposed women's quota for not more than 15 years, but BJP guarantees reservation of seats for women. I express my gratitude towards PM Modi and Law Minister (Arjun Ram Meghwal) who didn't allow this desire of the Congress to become a reality," she said.
Later on Wednesday, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi too addressed the Lok Sabha on the Bill.
"There is one thing in my view that makes this Bill incomplete. I think OBC reservation should have been included in this Bill," Rahul Gandhi said.
"There are also two things that seem strange to me - one is the idea that you require a new census and the second is that you require delimitation to implement this Bill," he added.
Addressing the Lok Sabha, Union Minister Amit Shah said: "For PM Modi and the government, women's reservation is not about politics, it's about recognition."
Responding to Rahul Gandhi's claims of OBCs being sidelined, Shah said that 29% BJP MPs are from the OBC community.
From the Opposition, scores of MPs including Supriya Sule, Mahua Moitra, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Kanimozhi, and others questioned the need to wait for the completion of the census and delimitation exercises to implement the reservation.
Key highlights of the Bill:
The bill, if passed, will come into effect after the first delimitation or redrawing of constituencies, which is likely to take place in 2027, as per details of the legislation.
The bill assures 33 percent or 181 seats for women to be reserved in the Lok Sabha and the state legislative assemblies.
There will be no reservation in either the Rajya Sabha or the state legislative councils.
The reservation will be in place only for 15 years after the bill becomes an Act.
The reserved seats/constituencies will be rotated after every delimitation exercise.
Within seats reserved for SC/STs, one third will be reserved for women within these categories.