Congress President Rahul Gandhi wrote a letter on Monday to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging the latter to support the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill in the monsoon session of Parliament which is set to begin on 18 July.
Gandhi, who has been increasingly upping his criticism of the ruling NDA government led by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre, informed the PM that his party will offer its “unconditional support” on the matter.
“Our PM says he’s a crusader for women’s empowerment? Time for him to rise above party politics, walk-his-talk & have the Women’s Reservation Bill passed by Parliament. The Congress offers him its unconditional support,” wrote the 48-year-old Gandhi on Twitter.
“As you are aware, the Women’s Reservation Bill, passed by the Rajya Sabha on the 9th of March, 2010, has been stalled on one pretext or the other, in the Lok Sabha, for over eight years now. When this bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha with the support of the BJP, the then leader of the opposition. Arun Jaitley ji, called the passage of the bill ‘historic and momentous1’,” wrote Gandhi.
The Congress chief said that his party has been “unwavering in its commitment” to the bill and accused the BJP of having “second thoughts” reminding the saffron party that the passage of the bill was one of its key election promises in 2014.
Gandhi told the PM to look at how women have displayed far better leadership potential than men at the Panchayat and municipal levels. He said that women must take their rightful place in our state legislatures and in Parliament, where they are at present abysmally represented.
He said that women “are more likely, than their male counterparts, to take decisions that further the cause of an inclusive and just society”.
Calling the PM to “demonstrate” his commitment to the cause of women by offering his unconditional support to the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill, Gandhi warned that its implementation will not be possible before 2019 Lok Sabha elections if the bill is not passed in the monsoon session.
“Given that fact that the BJP and its allies have a majority in the Lok Sabha all this landmark legislation requires to become a reality is your support. I am sure, it will not be withheld,” said the Congress leader who was recently slammed by the PM for his reported comment on Congress being a party of Muslims.
With the letter, Gandhi submitted over 3.2 million signatures of Indians in support of the bill .
Compiling data from Election Commission of India, the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) reported that out of the total 4896 MPs/MLAs across the country, only 418 or 9 per cent are women.
In terms of percentage, among state assemblies, the highest percentage of women MLAs is from Bihar with 14 per cent, or 34 out of 243 MLAs. The state is followed by Rajasthan with 14 per cent, or 28 out of 200 MLAs and West Bengal with 12 per cent, or 34 out of 294 MLAs.