Women’s Reservation Bill: Why did SP, JDU and BSP, parties that opposed 13 years ago, back it now?

Image Source : INDIA TV Regional parties offered conditional support to the bill

The Women’s Reservation Bill (Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam) is set to sail through Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in the coming days as the Modi government is not facing the number barrier like previous governments. Moreover, almost all parties across the political spectrum extended their support to the bill but with some riders. Some regional parties changed their positioning and surprisingly lent their support to 33 per cent quota for women in Lok Sabha and state assemblies.

The bill which got a life after 13-year saw a few new supporters and some of them were among those who vehemently opposed the bill in the Lok Sabha in 2010 and did not allow it to be passed in the Lower House during the UPA regime. As it is said ‘better late than never’, people from every walk of life welcomed the government’s decision after all, the bill is set to reach its final destination after 27 years of being introduced by the HD Deve Gowda government in 1996.

Regional parties like- then Mulayam Singh-led Samajwadi Party, Sharad Yadav-led JD-U and Lalu Prasad Yadav-headed Rashtriya Janta Dal were the top critics of the bill. On July 20, 1998, RJD MP Surendra Prakash Yadav tore the bill after snatching it from then Law Minister M Thambi Durai in the Lok Sacha. Another RJD MP Ajit Kumar Mehta also picked up more copies of the Bill tore them in the Lower House. Lalu Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav who were at the top of their political career gathered at the well of the Lok Sabha and raised slogans against the bill. In a similar fashion, these leaders staged protests when the Manmohan Singh government tried to get the bill passed in the Lower House in 2010. 

Will consume poison…: Sharad Yadav

The strongest stand against the bill was taken by then JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav who vowed that he would consume poison in the House if it was passed in its present form. He claimed if the bill in its present form gets passed, women with shorthair-cut would enjoy the quota demanding quota within quota for the backward classes.

Today’s scenario decoded

Now, after 13 years in the changed political scenario, all political parties virtually accepted it and understood that they couldn’t electorally afford to ignore women’s representation in the parliament and assemblies. In the last two decades, women actively involved in the election process and emerged as a decisive factor in determining which party will win the election. The success of Nitish Kumar one after another election in Bihar is a testimony to the fact that women voters play a key role in deciding the fate of a politician. Kumar after banning liquor and giving 50 per cent reservation to women in the local civic body and panchayat election has a hold on women’s vote bank. Taking a cue from Kumar’s policy, other parties too softened their stands on women-related policies. A change of heart by some parties is not a coincidence but a tested strategy to woo women voters.

JD-U’s stand

 Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday asserted that he was in support of women’s reservation in Parliament and state assemblies though there must be provisions for adequate representation of SCs, STs, OBCs and EBCs.

Quota for the minority: Samajwadi Party

SP MP Dimple Yadav said if the government’s intention is positive and if they think that women should get their rights and respect, then her party demands that women of minority and backward class are also included to it

“I have asked questions about when the census would happen and if the caste-based census would take place. I also asked when the delimitation process will take place because both are related to each other… The Women’s Reservation Bill is dependent on both of these,” she added.

Rashtriya Janta Party’s stand

RJD MP Manoj Jha in Rajya Sabha said his party had maintained the stand that the bill should have an umbrella approach and it should take women from every section onboard. 

“Our party welcomed the idea of widest possible representation, but at the same time remains committed to the interest of the women from backward class,” he added.

Bahujan Samaj Party demands 50 per cent quota for women

BSP chief Mayawati said according to this bill the reservation will not be provided to women in the country in the coming 15-16 years. “After the passing of this bill, it wouldn’t be implemented immediately. First, a census in the country would be conducted and after this delimitation of seats would be done. A census takes a lot of time. After this, only this bill would be implemented. It is clear that this bill is not brought with an intention to give reservations to women. But to give an allurement to the women before the upcoming elections. The quota for women should be extended to 50 per cent” she said.

Lok Janshakti Party (Ramvilas) supports bill

Lok Janshakti Party (Ramvilas) MP Chirag Paswan supported the bill. “Every party played politics over this bill in the name of making it more effective. This is the reason why this bill could not be implemented for the last 27 years,” he said.

Meanwhile, all the political parties started posting their old statements on social media to claim credit as election season has just started and four key states will go to election this year. In fact, Congress leader Sonia Gandhi called the bill a brainchild of the former prime minister and her husband Rajiv Gandhi. It is difficult to decode which party will get how much benefit in the coming elections after the passage of the bill in the parliament but one thing is sure it will have a major impact on the results of the elections.

Also read: Smriti Irani slams Congress: Sonia Gandhi said no reservation for SC-ST women, PM Modi made it possible

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