‘Was Rajiv Gandhi’s dream’: Sonia supports Women’s Reservation Bill, seeks OBC inclusion

New Delhi :- Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday said the Women’s Reservation Bill was her husband and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s dream, which could come true now, but it needed to be implemented soon with the inclusion of SC, ST and OBC communities.

She also said that the Congress demands that this Bill be enforced immediately, and along with that, arrangements be made for reservations to women from SC, ST and OBC communities by holding a caste census

Speaking in the Lok Sabha during the discussion on the Women’s Reservation Bill, Sonia Gandhi said, “On behalf of the Congress party, I stand in support of the ‘Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam 2023’ (Women’s Reservation Bill).”

She said that the Indian woman has patience like the ocean.

“She has worked for everyone’s betterment like a river,” the Lok Sabha MP from Uttar Pradesh’s Rae Bareli said.

Sarojini Naidu, Sucheta Kriplani, Vijay Laxmi Pandit and Rajkumari Amrit Kaur and lakhs of women and many more have brought the dreams of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on the ground.

“The figure of Indira Gandhi is the living example of women empowerment,” she said.

She said, “It is a very touching moment of my life. The first time, the Constitutional Amendment determining women’s participation in local bodies was brought by my life partner Rajiv Gandhi. However it was not passed in Rajya Sabha due to seven votes.”

“Later under the leadership of P.V. Narasimha Rao passed. This is the result of the fact that in the local bodies we have over 15 lakh women politicians.

“The dream of Rajiv Gandhi has been fulfilled only half and with the passage of this Bill his dream will come true,” she said.

She also said that Congress supports this Bill (on Women’s Reservation).

“We are happy with the passage of this Bill but at the same time, we are concerned too. I want to ask a question. Indian women have been waiting for their political responsibility for the past 13 years. And now they are being asked to wait for some more years. How many years? Two years, four years, six years or eight years? Is such kind of treatment with Indian women justified,” she asked.

“The Congress demands that this Bill be enforced immediately, and along with that, arrangements be made for reservations to women from SC, ST and OBC communities by holding a caste census,” she added.

On Tuesday, when enquired about the Bill, she had retorted that “it is ours, apna hai'”.

The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023, was introduced in Lok Sabha on Tuesday in the supplementary list of business.

The Women’s Reservation Bill has proposed that the reservation would continue for a period of 15 years and there will be a quota for SC and STs within the reserved seats for women. The legislation, however, is unlikely to be implemented in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, sources said.

It will be rolled out only after the delimitation process is over, most probably in 2029, they added.

The reservation will come into effect after a delimitation exercise is undertaken and will continue for 15 years. Seats reserved for women will be rotated after each delimitation exercise, according to the Bill.

The government said women participate substantively in panchayats and at municipal bodies, but their representation in Assemblies and Parliament was still limited.

Women bring different perspectives and enrich the quality of legislative debates and decision-making, it added.

The Congress has dubbed the Bill as a “poll jumla” and also a betrayal with women and girls of the country.