Congress tears into govt over Women's Reservation Bill

New Delhi: Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh addresses a press conference, at AICC Headquarter in New Delhi on Wednesday, September 06, 2023. (Photo: IANS/Anupam Gautam)

New Delhi: Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh addresses a press conference, at AICC Headquarter in New Delhi on Wednesday, September 06, 2023. (Photo: IANS/Anupam Gautam)

New Delhi, September 19 (IANS): The Congress on Tuesday launched a tirade against the government after it tabled the Women's Reservation Bill in Parliament saying that  the Bill is one of the biggest poll 'jumla' and a huge betrayal of the hopes of crores of Indian women and girls.

"In a season of election jumlas, this one is the biggest of them all. A huge betrayal of the hopes of crores of Indian women and girls," Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh wrote on X.

Lashing out at the government, Ramesh who is also a Rajya Sabha MP said, "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. 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 comes 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," the Congress communication in-charge said.

In another tweet Ramesh said, "In April 1942, Mahatma Gandhi famously said of the British offer of Indian independence after the end of World War II, ‘it is a post-dated cheque drawn on a failing bank’. This is an apt description of what the Prime Minister has called Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam 2023. Just a nice sounding name to a vague promise that may be fulfilled years later."

"What was the tearing hurry to do this in a Special Session if it was not to be implemented in 2024? The reality is that the PM is going to be confronted with certain defeat in the coming state elections. He’s grasping at straws to stop the ground slipping from beneath him.

"If the Prime Minister had any real intention to prioritise women empowerment, the Women’s Reservation Bill would have been implemented immediately without the ifs and buts and all other conditions. For him and the BJP, this is only an election jumla that delivers nothing concrete," he added.

Congress general secretary (organisation) KC Venugopal said, "Unlike the UPA’s Women’s Reservation Bill that immediately gave women 33 per cent reservation, the NDA’s Women’s Reservation will kick-in only after a census and delimitation process."

"At the earliest, this will kick in for the 2029 elections. If it isn’t applicable immediately, this is just another headline management stunt by the Modi government. Further, the Bill doesn’t account for reservation for women from OBC communities. Without that, it is incomplete in its social justice agenda. The government should ensure that along with women’s reservation, representation of India’s backward communities is also guaranteed," Venugopal added.

Lambasting the Central government while dubbing the Bill as a betrayal of the women's movement, senior Congress leader Manish Tewari said, "The 128th Constitution Amendment Bill is a betrayal of the women’s movement and their struggle for greater democratic representation in law and policy making."

He said that Clause 334-A of the bill says reservation would come into effect post the first census after the bill becomes law and the delimitation based upon that Census.

"It is instructive to note that the Census due in 2021 has still not been held. Earliest Women’s reservation will become a reality in Parliament and Legislative Assemblies will be 2029 or even later. Bring women's reservation Bill now," the Congress Lok Sabha MP said.

The remarks from the Congress leaders came after the government on Tuesday tabled the long-awaited Women's Reservation Bill in the Lok Sabha.

The Women's Reservation Bill has proposed that the reservation would continue for a period of 15 years and there will be a quota for SC and STs within the reserved seats for women. The legislation however is unlikely to be implemented in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, sources said.

It will be rolled out only after the delimitation process is over, most probably in 2029, they added. The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023, was introduced in the Lok Sabha in the supplementary list of business.

The reservation will come into effect after a delimitation exercise is undertaken and will continue for 15 years. Seats reserved for women will be rotated after each delimitation exercise, according to the bill.

The government said women participate substantively in panchayats and municipal bodies, but their representation in the state assemblies and Parliament is still limited.

Women bring different perspectives and enrich the quality of legislative debates and decision-making, it added.