Sonia Gandhi writes to PM Modi on women's reservation bill

Sonia Gandhi writes to PM Modi on women's reservation bill

Sushmita Dev, chief of the party's women's wing All India Mahila Congress, told reporters here on Thursday that the signatures were collected from May 21 - the death anniversary of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi - as part of the opposition party's push for the bill pending passage in Parliament for nearly seven years.

The BJP-led NDA government has 336 seats in the 543-seat Lok Sabha (with BJP alone having 282 seats), and with Congress' backing (INC has 45 seats), a clear win is easily assured for the Women's Reservation Bill in the lower house.

She recalled that the Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha on March 9, 2010, and had "languished" in the Lok Sabha for "one reason or the other".

Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad and the then Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav had fiercely opposed the bill when the UPA government introduced it in Parliament in 2010. However, there are now a little over 60 women in the 545-member Lok Sabha.

Noting the Congress passed several key legislations like the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (2005), the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, the Sexual Harassment of Women at Work Place (Prevention and Protection) Act, 2013, the spokespersons said the party also installed women at top constitutional posts like president, prime minister and Speaker for the first time. In fact, the UPA's common minimum programme of 2004 and 2009 included the Women's Bill. However, this is the highest number of Women MPs ever elected to the Lok Sabha. However, it could not be passed in the Lok Sabha as political parties were divided over the issue. This is a Bill that has seen some cross-party support in the past, but clearly not enough. It lapsed after the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha in 2014 following BJP's win.

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