Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday sought an early passage of the “long-awaited” bill that seeks to reserve a third of legislative seats in India for women. Sonia Gandhi said that the concept of “maximum governance” — Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s catchphrase — would mean giving “women their rights”.
“Surely, maximum governance means giving us women our long-awaited due, the women’s reservation bill,” the Congress president said.
Therefore, she said, the Women Reservation Bill requires the government’s attention and parliament should pass it at the “earliest”.
Replying to her demand, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said that the government was trying to evolve an elusive consensus on the controversial women’s reservation bill.
The bill was first introduced by the Deve Gowda government on September 12, 1996. However, since then its journey has been blocked in parliament even as the historic piece of legislation cleared the first hurdle in 2010 when it was approved by the Rajya Sabha during the Congress-led UPA’s regime.
However, the bill never made it to the Lok Sabha and never could be made into a law and implemented.
Sonia Gandhi also took a dig at the Narendra Modi government, saying that maximum governance would also mean listening to the views of others for a healthy debate.
“Maximum governance means more than accelerating economic growth. It is for allowing debate and listening to differing points of view without inviting retribution…Giving freedom to civil society to carry out campaigns on behalf of those whose voices are not heard,” she said.
“Maximum governance means protecting azaadi (freedom) and protecting the social fabric of the country.”
Sonia Gandhi was apparently referring to the government’s crackdown on some Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students, including their union leader Kanhaiya Kumar, who were arrested on the charge of sedition.
The Congress president was speaking in the Lok Sabha as the world celebrated the International Women’s Day on March 8.
The government had pledged to celebrate the day by letting women parliamentarians speak in parliament. Most of the women MPs from various parties addressed the house and raised issues pertaining to women in India. Some male MPs also spoke.