New Delhi, September 19
In a major pre-election move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP government introduced the long-awaited women’s reservation Bill as the first agenda in the new Parliament building, where parliamentarians got into business moments after bidding farewell to the old House on Ganesh Chaturthi today.
Key provisions in legislation
- 33% quota for women in LS, Assemblies, Delhi Assembly (where direct elections happen)
- No reservation in RS/state legislative councils (where indirect elections take place)
- 1/3rd LS seats within 33% quota to be reserved for SC/ST women; no quota for OBC women
- Reserved seats to rotate after each delimitation
“God has chosen me for many pure deeds. We will write history today. Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam will strengthen democracy and further our resolve of women-led development,” PM Modi said in the new Lok Sabha, announcing his government’s move to table The Constitution (128th) Amendment Bill 2023. He sought a consensus on the passage of law that has been in the works since September 1996, when the first draft was tabled in Parliament. In its current form, the Bill seeks to amend four Articles of the Constitution (239AA, 330A, 332A and 334A) to provide 33% reservation for women in the Lok Sabha, state legislative Assemblies and Delhi Assembly, provide one-third quota for SC/ST women within the 33% bracket in the Lok Sabha and cap the reservation benefits at 15 years, unless Parliament wants to extend the period. The draft Bill introduced today says reserved seats for women will be rotated after each delimitation exercise. Importantly, though, the 33% reservation for women will take effect only after the delimitation, following the first Census is carried out after the enactment of Nari Shakti Bill.
Strength in lok sabha
Members : 543
Women MPs: 82
Post quota: 181
Since population-based delimitation is currently frozen until the first Census after 2026, women’s quota may not kick in until the 2029 Lok Sabha elections.
Long road ahead
Will take effect only after delimitation happens following first Census post Act. Delimitation is frozen till 2026.
The Congress, while welcoming the Bill in principle, accused the government of “event management” with party chief Mallikarjun Kharge saying: “The women’s Bill says quota will be effective only after the decadal Census and delimitation exercise. That means the government has closed the doors on women’s quota until 2029.” Party general secretary Jairam Ramesh asked whether the government would conduct the already delayed Census (due in 2021) before the 2024 General Election.
First introduced 27 years ago
1996 Introduced in LS under HD Deve Gowda-led government, lapsed after 11th LS dissolved
1998 Reintroduced in 12th LS & again in 13th LS (1999) under AB Vajpayee-led govt; lapsed
2008 Introduced in RS (goes to Parl panel); passed in 2010; sent to LS; lapsed once 15th LS dissolved in 2014
2023 Reintroduced in Lok Sabha by BJP govt
Earlier today, the new Lok Sabha witnessed old disruptive ways as the Congress and some other Opposition MPs created a ruckus over missing hard copies of the women’s quota Bill, which was introduced by Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal. Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were not present at the time.
Old Parliament named ‘Samvidhan Sadan’
“Please find the Bill in the revised list of business uploaded on tabs before you and learn digital tools,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi told sloganeering MPs, as Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury made two claims regarding the legislation — “women’s quota Bill passed under the Congress-led UPA in 2010 is still alive and the Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha in the past”.
Tender to construct new Parliament building awarded to Tata Projects
65,000 square metre built-up area
Adhir’s remarks were challenged by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who said both statements were factually incorrect. “Adhir should either authenticate his remarks or withdraw them,” said Shah as acrimony defined the first proceeding of the new House moments after the PM appealed for decorum, noting: “Our conduct in this House will determine who will sit on which side of the well.” Overall, the BJP feels introduction of the Bill will create a favourable perception in its favour as Rajasthan, MP, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram go to the polls followed by the 2024 LS elections.
888 seats in Lok Sabha
384 seating capacity in Rajya Sabha
The PM personally piloted the women’s Bill today, terming it an extension of BJP’s “pro-women governance”, whereby 70% of Mudra loans, 80% start-up loans, majority of Jan Dhan accounts had been opened by women.
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