The political bombshell projected to alter the electoral dynamics for 2024 turned out to be a hoax as the dream of reservation for women in Parliament and legislatures might not fructify before 2029.
The Congress, which wanted to embrace the Women’s Reservation Bill as its own since it had brought it in Parliament first in 2010, was rudely awakened by the details of the new bill, and cried betrayal.
In the morning, Sonia Gandhi had reacted to questions about the bill, saying: “What’s the problem? Apna hai, it’s our own.”
In the afternoon, when it became clear that the reservation was no more than a promise, the party’s communications chief, Jairam Ramesh, called the bill “the biggest jumla”.
Ramesh said in a statement: “In a season of election jumlas, this one is the biggest of them all! A huge betrayal of the hopes of crores of Indian women and girls. As we had pointed out earlier, the Modi government has not yet conducted the 2021 decadal Census, making India the only country in G20 that has failed to carry out the Census. Now it says that the reservation for women will come into effect only following the first decadal Census conducted after the Women’s Reservation Bill has become an Act.”
Ramesh added: “When will this Census take place? The bill also says the reservation come into effect only after the publication of the next Census and the subsequent delimitation exercise thereafter. Will the Census and delimitation be done before the 2024 elections? Basically the bill gets the headlines today with a very vague promise of its implementation date. This is nothing but EVM — Event Management.”
The Congress had revived its demand for passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill, hearing the murmurs about this planned “masterstroke” by Modi in the special session of Parliament.
Not only was the Congress prepared to deal with the new situation, it believed the electoral dynamics would favour the party because it has launched women-centric schemes, like gas cylinder for Rs 500 and Rs 2000 cash transfer, in the states where it is in power. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had also pushed 40 per cent reservation for women in the last Uttar Pradesh assembly election.
Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said: “Modi ki neeti aur neeyat mein khot hai (Modi’s policy and intent are both suspect). He brought this bill in the special session of Parliament only because of the fear of impending defeat in elections. But the bill is laden with ifs and buts.”
“The bill that was passed in Rajya Sabha is still alive and could have been passed straightaway. But Modi cheated women. He has made the women of the country a victim of his jumlas,” she added, referring to the UPA era bill.
The INDIA parties believe that a law that cannot be operational before 2029 cannot create a perception about Modi’s politics being pro-women. They believe this only deepens the perception of Modi being a champion of diversions and electoral gimmicks.
Many Opposition leaders said the BJP was trying to reap the harvest by promising to sow the seeds. They want the women to support them in 2024 for something that will happen in 2029.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) posted a message saying: “People should learn thuggery from Modi. This is a bill to fool the women of the country. Modi wants to take electoral benefits without empowering women. He does politics of lies. The BJP is anti-women.”