Rahul's reminder to Modi on women's bill
New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi on Monday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking passage of the long-pending women's reservation bill in Parliament's upcoming monsoon session, highlighting their inherent tendency to support the idea of an "inclusive and just society".
The Congress chief's letter came on a day his party released a "chargesheet" against the government, accusing it of "total failure" in empowering women and ensuring their safety.
The bill, which seeks to reserve for women 33 per cent of seats in Parliament and state legislatures, has been in the freezer since it was passed in the Rajya Sabha in March 2010.
In his letter to Modi, two days before the monsoon session's scheduled start, Rahul said: "For the sceptics in your party who oppose the passage of this transformational legislation, I would appreciate you pointing out to them that our nation's experience with governance at the panchayat and municipal levels has clearly shown that women in leadership positions are more likely, than their male counterparts, to take decisions that further the cause of an inclusive and just society; which is why this bill has the potential to transform governance in India."
Rahul blamed the BJP for the bill being in cold storage. "While the Congress party has been unwavering in its commitment to the bill, the BJP appears to have had second thoughts, even though this was one of its key promises in its 2014 manifesto," he said, pointing out that the Prime Minister had often talked about empowering women at public rallies.
"Let us stand together, rise above party politics and send India a message that we believe the time for change has come. Women must take their rightful place in our state legislatures and Parliament, where they are at present abysmally represented."
Mahila Congress chief Sushmita Dev released the letter at a media conference where she ripped into Modi.
"The Prime Minister's lofty ideas about women's empowerment is mere lip service and women's security has worsened alarmingly in his regime. He made atrocities on women a big issue in 2014 with the slogan ' Bahut hua naari pe war/Abki baar Modi sarkar', but rape incidents became rampant and his party was badly exposed in cases like Unnao and Kathua," she said.
The Mahila Congress had collected 32 lakh signatures in support of the bill in the recent past.
"The BJP, which referred to women as 'the Nation Builder' in its 2014 manifesto, has managed to bewilder women by the detrimental actions and inactions of its ministers, leaders and workers. Worse, the commitment to the women's reservation bill stands breached despite an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha," Sushmita said.
"Women and children are being raped and killed on the streets, even dragged from their homes in the middle of the night, gang-raped and burnt alive. Kathua, Unnao, Mandsaur and (the) Naliya (sex scandal in Gujarat) have exposed his politics of opportunism. In the PM's own constituency, girl students in Banaras Hindu University were beaten up by male police officers."
While the Kathua rape and murder in Jammu triggered nationwide outrage, a BJP lawmaker was involved in the Unnao incident in Uttar Pradesh. In Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh, an eight-year-old was gang-raped by two suspects who tried to murder her. The BHU students were baton-charged while protesting hostel restrictions.
Sushmita recalled an answer minister of state for law and justice P.P. Chaudhary had given to the Lok Sabha on March 28, saying there were no fast-track courts for the quick disposal of cases of crimes against women in Assam, Gujarat, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and many other states.
She also referred to attacks on women on social media by people Modi follows. Earlier, too, the Congress has accused the Prime Minister of "nurturing" an army of trolls that attacks and maligns his critics.