The Congress’s OBC wing chairman and former finance minister Capt Ajay Singh Yadav led a protest march to the Haryana Raj Bhavan on Monday and submitted a memorandum to Governor Bandaru Dattatreya to implement the women’s reservation Bill in the elections to be held in 2024 and include sub-quotas for OBC, SC, ST and minority women.
“We demand that out of the 33 per cent reservation given to women in the recently passed women’s reservation Bill, the OBC, SC, ST and minority women should be given equal representation within this reservation proportionate to their population in the country and the implementation of women’s reservation starting from the upcoming Assembly elections in Telangana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and Parliament elections in 2024. Kindly ensure the necessary amendments to the Nari Shakti Act, 2023,” Yadav said.
The two-page memorandum also said that former Congress prime ministers from Rajiv Gandhi in 1989 to PV Narasimha Rao in 1992 to Manmohan Singh in 2008 tried to ensure 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament.
“It was in 1989, former prime minister late Shri Rajiv Gandhi ji introduced the Bill in Parliament to provide 33 per cent reservation for women in Panchayati Raj Institutions. But, at that time a large part of the Opposition opposed it and the Bill was not passed in the Rajya Sabha by seven votes. But Congress’ commitment to empowering women continued and in 1992, former prime minister Shri Narasimha Rao ji implemented the reservation of 33 per cent seats for women in Panchayati Raj institutions,” the memorandum read.
“This led to the reservation of seats for women belonging to the Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and Other Backward Classes (OBC) communities within the 33 per cent quota. It is also important to note that the Congress party introduced the women’s reservation Bill, also known as the Constitution 108th Amendment Bill in 2008. The UPA government led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh got the women’s reservation Bill passed in the Rajya Sabha, but due to lack of a majority in the Lok Sabha, it could not be introduced,” it added.
“After the departure of the UPA government in 2014, the former Congress president Smt Sonia Gandhi ji wrote letters to the Hon’ble Prime Minister demanding the implementation of women’s reservation. Former Congress president Shri Rahul Gandhi ji also reiterated the demand for bringing the women’s reservation Bill. At the same time, in the Congress party’s 85th Plenary Session held in Raipur, our party had made it clear that it would ensure 33 per cent reservation to women and conduct a caste census,” it added.
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The Congress memorandum also said that the BJP-led government at the Centre passed the women’s quota legislation “under pressure from us and all other Opposition parties”. The party said the Bill, however, amounted to “a betrayal of the majority of women in India”.
“Firstly, no provision in the current legislation ensures when this reservation for women will be implemented. Secondly, women belonging to OBC, SC, ST and minority communities do not find any quota for themselves in this legislation. Despite Congress and all other Opposition parties supporting the Bill asking for its immediate implementation in the upcoming State Assembly and Lok Sabha elections and also demanding the inclusion of women belonging to the marginalised communities as a sub-quota, the BJP did not give reservation to OBC, SC, ST or minority communities women,” the memorandum stated.
The Congress also demanded a caste census, adding that the Bill was rendered ineffective by adding “unnecessary provisions of first conducting a census and then delimitation, both pending since 2021”.