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With Demand For OBC Quota, Opposition Parties Find Unity In Debate On Women's Reservation Bill

After the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam or Women's Reservation bill was tabled on Tuesday, opposition parties of the newly-formed alliance INDIA found a common ground in criticising the Bill on two fronts: the delay in implementation of the legislation and the lack of sub-quota for OBC women. 

Congress president raised the demand reservation for OBCs during his speech on Tuesday
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After the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam or Women's Reservation bill was tabled on Tuesday, opposition parties of the newly-formed alliance INDIA found a common ground in criticising the Bill on two fronts: the delay in implementation of the legislation and the lack of sub-quota for OBC women. 

While the Congress and other opposition parties criticised the Bill for being vague in its implementation date, the BJP retorted by claiming that the Congress was never serious about providing reservation to women in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies. The Lok Sabha is expected to witness a heated discussion today when the Bill will be taken up at 11 AM, with opposition parties set to demand for a separate quota for OBC women. 

OBC quota for women

The Bill aims to reserve “as nearly as may be, one-third of the total number of seats” – which comes to about 33 per cent – for women in the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies. One-third of the SC/ST quota will be reserved for women belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. However, there is no mention in the Bill about reservation for women belonging to OBC. 

Parties including the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Samajwadi Party have indicated their opposition by seeking "quota within quota". While JD(U) leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has welcomed the bill, he joined the parties in calling for an OBC quota. The Congress, too, has echoed similar views.

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati in a press release stated that women from Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and OBC should get reservation in the Women’s Reservation Bill being presented in Parliament. The former chief minister, however, clarified that her party would support the Bill in Parliament even if these demands are not met. 

Interestingly, strong opposition from these parties -- SP and RJD -- over the lack of quota within quota for OBC women in 2010 had prompted the then UPA government to not take up the Bill in Lok Sabha. But now, the Congress backed the views of these parties with party president and Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge raising the OBC quota demand during his speech in the House on Tuesday.

"The backward classes may suffer in this because unless the Constitutional amendment provides one-third quota to the OBCs, their women will not benefit from it. If you don’t do that, it will amount to injustice to the backward classes," Kharge said.

The stance of these opposition parties is in sync with their larger demand for a caste census. In a joint resolution, the group of 26 opposition parties, that will take on the ruling NDA in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, demanded the implementation of the caste census while asserting that they have come together to defeat the "hatred and violence being manufactured against minorities" as well as "rising crimes against women, Dalits, tribals and Kashmiri Pandits".

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