The Union Cabinet cleared the Women's Reservation Bill in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, according to reports.
A meeting of the Union Cabinet chaired by Modi took place at the Parliament House Annexe in Delhi earlier in the evening. It lasted for around 90 minutes. The ministers were expected to discuss the agenda of the Special Session of the Parliament, which began on Monday, during the meeting.
Amid uncertainty over the agenda of the Special Session of the Parliament, parties across the spectrum have called for the passage of the Women's Reservation Bill. The bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in 2008 but has not progressed in the Lok Sabha. The bill in 2008 sought to reserve one-third of all seats in Lok Sabha and state assemblies for women.
Amid reports that the Cabinet has cleared the Women's Reservation Bill, Congress party's communications chief Jairam Ramesh said the party welcomed the move.
"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," said Ramesh in a tweet.
Earlier on Monday, Modi said the Special Session of the Parliament would witness "historic decisions" and it had increased expectations that the Modi government has big plans for the session. For weeks now, there have been speculations over the agenda of the session, which has largely been shrouded in secrecy. It has been speculated that the government could bring bills for the women's reservation in the parliament and state assemblies or change the name of the nation to Bharat from the current arrangement where both India and Bharat are stated in the Constitution.
The Cabinet meeting took place after the conclusion of the first day of the five-day Special Session of the Parliament, which was also the last in the old parliament complex that would become a heritage building now. The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha will convene in the New Parliament Building on Tuesday.
The Indian Express reported that key bills to be taken up during the Special Session were expected to be discussed in the Cabinet meeting.
Eight bills have been listed to be taken up during the Special Session, but it is widely speculated that the Modi government could spring a surprise during the session.
The bills listed are Advocates (Amendment) Bill, 2023; the Press and Registration of Periodicals Bill, 2023; the Post Office Bill, 2023, the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023; a bill on the welfare of senior citizens; and three related to SC/ST order, according to India Today.
Prior to the Cabinet meeting, a series of meetings took place between the ministers and top Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders. NDTV reported that Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP President JP Nadda, following which Goyal and Joshi were scheduled to meet Modi.
Despite the Modi government's push for Bharat over India and speculations that it could bring in constitutional amendment to change the name of the nation, there has been no formal word from the government on this. The speculations have also revolved around 'one nation, one election' or uniform civil code.