Opposition rides women quota bill to break Parliament monotony


Photo credit Twitter Pralhad Joshi

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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, December 6: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) failed to field even 10 per cent women candidates in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections. Congress fared no better. In the elections for the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) spouses of the leaders from the BJP and the other parties were fielded from a large number of constituencies, which were reserved for women.

The Trinamool Congress on Tuesday seized the initiative in the all-party meeting called by the government by demanding the introduction of the women reservation bill in the Winter session of Parliament. The meeting, which was attended by the deputy leader of the Lok Sabha and the Union Minister for Defence Rajnath Singh, saw the BJP’s former ally the Janata Dal (United) supporting the demand of the TMC. Despite an extraordinary majority in the Lok Sabha for the past eight years, the BJP never gave it a thought to bring the 33 per cent women reservation bill in the legislature – Parliament and Legislative Assemblies, averaging about 14 and eight per cent women participation respectively, which is no better that the situation that prevailed decades ago.

The BJP has been able to get the endorsements of Parliament for contentious legislations such as dilution of the key provisions of Article 370 and criminalising the practices of triple talaq among Muslims without commanding a majority in the Rajya Sabha. Yet, the ruling party is not known to ever propose the women reservation bill in any of the meeting with the opposition parties in the last eight years. The BJP before the rise of Narendra Modi in the national politics used to maintain that the party would seek a broader political consensus on women reservation bill.

The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has been consistently calling for the passage of the women reservation bill. The TMC along with the BJD have given a larger representation to women in the West Bengal and Odisa Assemblies along with both the Houses of Parliament.

The women reservation bill was sent to dustbin by the physical play by the MPs from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh when the politics of the two states were dominated by the socialist faces – Lalu Prasad Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav. The political parties linked to the two Yadavs are now decimated in the national politics and have become fringe players. Nitish Kumar, who branched out of Lalu Prasad Yadav to first found the Samata Party, which he afterwards merged with the Janata Dal (United), has over the years nursed a constituency of women in Bihar. With the TMC, JD (U) has sought to turn the spotlight on the BJP’s evasiveness to pass the women reservation bill in the Winter session of Parliament.

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