Congress President Rahul Gandhi has urged state governments run by the Congress and its allies to pass a resolution calling on the Centre to ensure the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill, The Indian Express reported. The legislation, if enacted, would reserve 33% of seats in state Legislative Assemblies and Parliament for women.
“In order to reaffirm our support for the passage of the bill, it would be expedient for the state Assembly to pass a resolution calling for the reservation of one third of the seats in the Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies for women in the next session,” he said in a letter to the chief ministers of these states on December 6.
The party is in power in Punjab, Puducherry and Mizoram, and runs an alliance government with the Janata Dal (Secular) in Karnataka.
Pointing out that India ranks 148th out of 193 countries in terms of the percentage of women in Parliament, Gandhi said the situation was “even worse in state Assemblies”. The Congress president said Lok Sabha MP Sushmita Dev, who heads the Mahila Congress, had also written to the states led by the party, The Hindu reported.
“The lack of adequate representation of women in our polity undermines our democracy and perpetuates existing systemic injustices,” Gandhi said. “Women in institutions of local self-governance have not only been effective leaders, but also challenged traditional gender roles that curtailed their participation in public life.”
The Rajya Sabha passed the Women’s Reservation Bill in 2010 but it lapsed after the dissolution of the Lok Sabha in 2014. Gandhi said his party and others have called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure the bill is passed.
“While the opponents of the bill have cast doubts on the ability of women to effect change, the leadership role taken on by women after the 73rd and 74th Constitutional amendments have proved the detractors wrong,” Gandhi added. The 73rd and 74th Constitutional amendments pertain to self-governing local bodies at the panchayat and municipal levels.
Last week, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had also written to Modi and asked him to ensure Parliament passes the bill. He said his government would help women achieve their rightful place in the decision-making process. In November, the Odisha Assembly passed, by a voice vote, a resolution seeking reservation for women in Assemblies and Parliament.