Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters in New Delhi on Saturday, Congress leader Supriya Shrinate said, “The Women’s Reservation Bill is a long-awaited judgement on the empowerment of women, a long-awaited legislation that has been passed. We welcome its passage.”
She added, “We obviously have serious issues with how delayed it’s going to be, because this looks like yet another tall promise that may not see the fruition of the day. You never know when it happens. According to the government’s own admission, it will not happen before 2029.”
She said: “According to what some MPs and ministers of the BJP government have said in the Parliament, its link to delimitation and census… and delimitation of 2026, according to Article 82 and 81 (3) of the Constitution, cannot happen before the census of 2031.”
“So, realistically speaking, are we going to wait up until 2039? Because it looks like there was a carrot that was dangled for the women of this country and then were told to wait, and wait for much longer,” Shrinate added.
She also said: “Not a word on women coming from the Backward classes, something that we have been talking about… the Backward castes completely missing.”
“But what is missing the most? And I want to say here – when a woman gets elected to Parliament… and Parliament is our highest decision-making body… when a woman gets elected to Parliament, each one of us expects her to speak against injustice meted out to other women, to speak against gruesome crime that happens to other women, to speak for fairness for other women, to speak for equality, to speak for justice, and most of all… to speak for women to be empowered.”
Referring to women leaders of BJP welcoming the Prime Minister Narendra Modi at its party headquarters in New Delhi, Shrinate added, “I saw a picture, its a beautiful picture actually… it’s a picture of BJP’s women MPs, and they all thronged around Modi congratulating him after the Women’s Reservation Bill was passed. Its a picture that makes all of us happy, I was very happy to see this picture.”
“But the moment I thought about it, how each one of these women… not one, not two, but each of the smiling faces have kept conspicuously quiet each time a gruesome crime has happened against some women or the other across the country, it hangs my head in shame,” she said citing examples of atrocities against women in the country.
The Congress leader said that she hopes that the new legislators and the MPs who come to Parliament are not going to keep quiet when two women are paraded naked in Manipur.
“I hope they will not keep quiet for 78 days and they will raise the questions to the Prime Minister, to the Home Minister, to the Women and Health Minister, to the Women departments in this country. I do hope they will ask what is our double-engine government doing in Manipur. I do hope they will ask the Women Commission why did they not lodge a complaint… because when you elect women, you expect them to speak for other women, to speak for one-half of humanity, you expect them to voice their opinion and ask for justice,” Shrinate added.
She asserted that when women are denied justice across the country, “you don’t expect them to be mute spectators with smiling faces for cameras and not speaking a word for another woman in this country.”
“Women in the BJP who have been elected to Parliament… with all due respect to the election… have really let down half the country’s population. They did not speak on gruesome crimes, they did not speak on political patronage, they did not speak when women across the country were made to suffer and were humiliated. And I do hope the Women’s Reservation Bill, and whoever gets elected, is going to change that,” she said.
The Rajya Sabha on Thursday also unanimously passed the Women’s Reservation Bill after an 11-hour debate, a day after Lok Sabha passed the bill on Wednesday.
Now, 33 per cent reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and in the state assemblies will become a law and will be implemented after a census and delimitation.
The motion was adopted in the House with 215 MPs voting in favour and none against and without any abstention.
Earlier, all Rajya Sabha MPs across party lines verbally supported the bill despite some Opposition members described it an “election gimmick”.
This bill became the first to be passed in the New Parliament building during the five-day Special session.