Women’s Reservation Bill: Sonia Gandhi supports quota-within-quota demand
“I stand to support the bill,” said Gandhi, while calling for a sub-clause on OBC, SC and ST reservations
United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi opened the debate on the women’s reservation bill in Parliament on behalf of the Indian National Congress on Wednesday, 20 September.
In her address, she supported the 'quota within quota' demand, and asked the Modi government to implement the same right away. “I stand to support the bill,” said Gandhi, while demanding that a sub-clause on reservation of women from scheduled castes (SCs), scheduled tribes (STs) and other backward classes (OBCs) be created.
"The Congress party supports this bill. We are happy regarding the passing of the bill," said Gandhi, "but we are also concerned.
"I would like to ask a question," she added. "Indian women have been waiting for their political responsibilities for the last 13 years. Now they are being asked to wait for a few more years.
"How many years? Is this behaviour with Indian women appropriate? The Indian National Congress demands that the bill be implemented with immediate effect, but caste census should also be done and arrangement for reservation of SC, ST and OBC women should be made," she added.
Saying that “this is an emotional moment of my own life”, Sonia Gandhi recalled her husband and former prime minister of India Rajiv Gandhi, who paved the way for women’s reservation in local bodies.
The UPA chairperson noted, “For the first time, a constitutional amendment to decide women's representation in local body elections was brought by my life partner Rajiv Gandhi. It was defeated in the Rajya Sabha by seven votes. Later, the Congress government under the leadership of Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao passed it in the Rajya Sabha. As a result, we have 15 lakh elected women leaders across the country throughout local bodies.”
“Rajiv Gandhi's dream is only partially complete. It will be complete with the passing of this bill,” underscored Gandhi.
Sonia Gandhi also pressed for a caste census during her speech on the women’s reservation bill, as the quote-within-quota demand cannot be met without updated information on this front.
Other Congress leaders, meanwhile, termed the way the bill has been tabled in Parliament as another jumla of the Modi government, while being supportive of the notion of a women's reservation bill in principle.
“The date of the next census is indeterminate," wrote former finance minister P Chidambaram on X (formerly Twitter). "The date of the next delimitation is indeterminate (and perhaps controversial). The women's reservation is dependent on two indeterminate dates! Can there be a greater jumla?”
“In a season of election jumlas, this one is the biggest of them all!," echoed Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh, as well. "A huge betrayal of the hopes of crores of Indian women and girls."
"As we had pointed out earlier, Modi government has not yet conducted the 2021 decadal census, making India the only country in G20 that has failed to carry out the census," he posted on X. "Now it says that the reservation for women will come into effect only following the first decadal census conducted AFTER the Women’s Reservation Bill has become an Act.
"When will this Census take place? The bill also says the reservation come into effect only after the publication of the next census and the subsequent delimitation exercise thereafter. Will the census and delimitation be done before the 2024 elections? Basically the bill gets the headlines today with a very vague promise of its implementation date. This is nothing but EVM — EVent Management,” Ramesh added.