The Union cabinet has given its approval for a bill to ensure reservation of 33 per cent seats for women in Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies, reports claimed on Monday. The government, however, has not made any official announcement as it skipped the customary press briefing after the cabinet meeting.
The bill is likely to be tabled in parliament during the five-day special session which began on Monday.
"Only the Modi government had the moral courage to fulfill the demand for women's reservation. Which was proved by the approval of the cabinet. Congratulations @narendramodi ji and congratulations to the Modi government," Union minister Pralhad Singh Patel tweeted.
The bill, officially known as the Constitution (One Hundred and Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2008, was first introduced in the Rajya Sabha by the previous Manmohan Singh government. It has not yet been introduced in the Lok Sabha.
Besides calling for reservation of 33 per cent seats for women in Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies, the bill also mandates that one third of the total seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes should be allocated for women from those groups.
As per the bill, the reservation of seats for women will cease to exist 15 years after the commencement of the Amendment Act.
The Congress party was quick to welcome the cabinet decision. Senior leader Jairam Ramesh, however, said the government should have discussed this at the all party meeting before the special session and built consensus among the parties.
“It’s been a long-standing demand of the Congress party to implement women’s reservation. We welcome the reported decision of the Union Cabinet and await the details of the Bill. This could have very well been discussed in the all-party meeting before the Special Session, and consensus could have been built instead of operating under a veil of secrecy,” he said in a tweet.
Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired the key cabinet meeting at the Parliament House Annexe in the evening, amid speculation that it may clear some important legislative proposals. The meeting had spike interest as it came in the wake of Modi’s statement earlier in the day that the parliament’s special session, which began on Monday, is going to be one with historic decisions.
“Now, while taking forward the journey from a new place...we have to make the country a developed country by 2047. For this, all the decisions of the time to come will be taken in the new Parliament building,” Modi had said.
The cabinet meeting also followed a series of meetings between senior members of the ministry. Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi held talks with Home Minister Amit Shah in the presence of BJP chief J.P. Nadda.
Earlier, speaking in Lok Sabha, Modi had said the contribution of women parliamentarians has been on the rise over the years. He said more than 7,500 public representatives have served in both Houses whereas the number of women representatives has been approximately 600.
The five-day special session began on Monday and both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha were adjourned after a discussion on parliamentary democracy in the last 75 years. The House proceedings will move to to the new parliament building on Tuesday.
The government earlier informed that a total of eight bills have been listed for consideration and passage during the session. Also, the floor leaders were on Sunday informed at an all-party meeting that a bill on the welfare of senior citizens and three related to SC/ST order have been added to the agenda.
Meanwhile, there was a buzz on whether the women's reservation bill will be brought up during the five-day session. The Congress Working Committee, held in Hyderabad, had demanded that the Women’s Reservation Bill must be passed during the Special Session of Parliament. Several parties, including from the ruling and opposition sides, on Sunday made a strong pitch for tabling and passage of the women's reservation bill during the five-day Parliament session beginning Monday.