Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take advantage of his Bharatiya Janata Party’s majority in the Lok Sabha and pass the Women’s Reservation Bill, which has been pending since 2010.
“The Congress Party has always and will continue to support this legislation, which will be a significant step forward in the empowerment of women,” she said in a letter to the prime minister. She also pointed out that it was her late husband, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, “who first mooted the provision for reservation for women in panchayats and nagarpalikas”.
The Rajya Sabha had passed the Women’s Reservation Bill in 2010, after which it was sent back to the Lower House. The legislation seeks to reserve 33% seats in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies for women.
Of the 543 MPs elected, only 62 are women, according to PRS Legislative. This is marginally higher than the 58 women were elected to the 15th Lok Sabha in 2009.
Here’s the full text of Gandhi’s letter to Modi:
Dear Prime Minister,
You may recall that the Rajya Sabha had passed the Women’s Reservation Bill on March 9, 2010. Since then, however, it has languished in the Lok Sabha for one reason or another.
I am writing to request you to take advantage of your majority in the Lok Sabha to now get the Women’s Reservation Bill passed in the Lower House as well. The Congress Party has always and will continue to support this legislation which will be a significant step forward in the empowerment of women.
You may recall that it was, in fact, the Congress Party and its late leader Shri Rajiv Gandhi who first mooted the provision for reservation for women in panchayats and nagarpalikas in the Constitution Amendment Bills which the Opposition parties thwarted in the Rajya Sabha in 1989 but later were passed by both Houses of Parliament in 1993 becoming the 73rd and 74th Amendments.