Congress’s Rahul Gandhi, during a press conference at the AICC headquarters in New Delhi, criticised the Narendra Modi government’s approach to the women’s reservation bill, raising objections over two clauses related to the Census and delimitation exercise. He demanded immediate implementation of the bill, removing the said clauses. The government’s tactics, according to him, are just a delay strategy, diverting from the main issue of a caste Census.
Gandhi highlighted two primary issues with the bill – a delay of a decade due to the Census and delimitation and the avoidance of a caste Census by the BJP. He stated that his party wholly supports the bill, yet challenges the government to take action immediately by eliminating the problematic clauses.
He expressed regret over the 2010 bill related to the issue, which was passed in the Rajya Sabha but failed in the Lok Sabha due to the demand for a separate OBC quota for women. Furthermore, he emphasised the importance of releasing the caste Census now, which was not done earlier due to certain reasons.
Gandhi, during his research for his Parliament speech, discovered a startling lack of representation of Other Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes and Tribes within secretaries. He questioned if this is the kind of representation we want for a community that could potentially make up to 50% of the population.
The former Congress chief highlighted the need for data to distribute power fairly among the common people. He questioned the delay in conducting the Census and the non-release of earlier data. He also pointed out the ironic situation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, an OBC leader, having only three OBC secretaries.
On the topic of poor representation of marginalised communities during the Congress-led UPA government, Gandhi admitted to the shortcomings of that time and stressed the need for change to empower the poor. He warned the BJP against attempting to fool women with their tactics, stating that implementing a bill ten years from now essentially means “nothing”.
The women’s reservation bill received the parliamentary nod on Thursday when the Rajya Sabha unanimously voted in its favour. This significant development, however, has not been without contentious debates and demands for further action from opposition parties, primarily the Congress.