Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday credited the PV Narasimha Rao-led Congress government for bringing the 33 per cent reservation at Panchayat level as she spoke on the women’s reservation bill in Rajya Sabha during the special session of Parliament.
Praising the introduction of the long-pending bill seeking women’s reservation, Sitharaman said the government convened the special session to give a “good start” to the new building of Parliament. "We have come into a new complex, new building for Parliament, new India. We would like this Parliament to deal with one of the best bills that it can deal with."
"I want to credit former PM PV Narasimha Rao's government for bringing 33 per cent reservation at the panchayat level. As a result, we have seen a groundswell at panchayat level where reservation has been increased to 50 per cent at several panchayats showing the contribution of women," she said in a rare applaud for the Congress party.
The Finance Minister made an intervention in the discussion on the women’s quota bill, formally known as the Constitution (128th Amendment) Bill or the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam, 2023. She asserted that the BJP does not play politics in matters related to women.
Notably, the bill, which seeks to provide one-third reservation to women in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies, was cleared by the Lok Sabha last evening with a rare bipartisan support with 454 members voting in favour and two against it.
Sitharaman said the bill was "long overdue" and it was important to pass the proposed legislation with consensus. She said the bill has been thoughtfully crafted, especially considering that "we are at a critical stage of development".
Responding to the "well-meaning" suggestion for reservation for women in Rajya Sabha and legislative councils as well, she said it would not be workable because the members are elected through indirect elections.
Notably, Rajya Sabha had passed a similar Bill in 2010 but the legislation failed to pass through Lok Sabha due to strong opposition from SP and RJD over the lack of quota within quota for OBC women, something the opposition parties brought up in debate this time as well.
Even if the bill is cleared in both Houses this time, its implementation could take up to 10 years after the census and delimitation process. Union Home Minister Amit Shah, during the debate in Lok Sabha, confirmed that the legislation will not be implemented before 2029.
Sitharaman said that once the bill is enacted and in effect, a new delimitation process will occur after the first census with updated figures is published.