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Modi Cabinet okays Women's Reservation Bill, set to be tabled in new Parliament: Sources

According to sources, the women's reservation bill, securing 33% of seats for women in India's Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies, was approved during the meeting of the Union cabinet on Monday evening.

Modi Cabinet okays Women's Reservation Bill to be tabled in new Parliament: Sources
First Published Sep 19, 2023, 12:17 AM IST

The Union cabinet on Monday night approved a bill that seeks to secure 33 per cent of seats in the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies for women, sources said.

Minister of State for Food Processing Industries and Jal Shakti, Prahlad Singh Patel, made an announcement on the micro-blogging platform X (formerly Twitter). He stated, "The Modi government has displayed remarkable moral fortitude by approving the long-awaited women's reservation, a fact that has now become evident. Heartiest congratulations to Narendra Modi ji and the entire Modi government."

Interestingly, Patel's post seemed to have been removed shortly after its publication. However, the news had already been disseminated through news agencies, and numerous X users had captured screenshots of the post.

This development had garnered significant attention, primarily due to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's earlier statement hinting at "historic decisions" in this special session. Several crucial meetings held prior to this event, such as Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi meeting Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP chief JP Nadda, had heightened expectations. Speculation was rife regarding potential decisions ranging from women's reservation to Other Backward Classes' representation, 'One Nation One Election', and even a change of the country's name.

Hopes for clarity post-meeting were dashed as the government skipped the customary briefing. Subsequently, sources confirmed that the speculation about the approval of the women's reservation bill was accurate.

It's worth noting that the bill, formulated in 2008, had remained dormant since its passage in the Rajya Sabha in 2010, never making its way to the lower house. While the BJP and Congress consistently supported the bill, opposition from other parties and demands for quotas for backward classes within the women's quota posed significant hurdles.

Before the commencement of the parliamentary session, leaders from the Opposition, including the Ajit Pawar faction of the Nationalist Congress Party, vigorously advocated for women's reservation. This push was prominent during the all-party meeting held on Sunday and was further raised during the proceedings of the Special session.

During a discussion on the 'Parliamentary Journey of 75 years Starting from Samvidhan Sabha -- Achievements, Experiences, Memories And Learnings,' Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge highlighted the skewed gender ratio in parliament, noting that women make up only 14% of parliament and a mere 10% in legislative assemblies.

In response to the BJP's criticism on this issue, Nationalist Congress Party's Supriya Sule firmly asserted her position. She pointed out that India's first woman president, Pratibha Patil, and the first woman Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, were from the Congress. She also highlighted that the Women's Reservation Bill was originally introduced by the Congress, but it could not secure passage due to a lack of numbers.

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