At last it happened to everyone’s dismay belying the hope of those who oppose it consistently.The Indian Government on Tuesday introduced the much delayed, much expected and much awaited Constitution Amendment Bill, 2008 (108 th Amendment), in the Rajya Sabha amid unruly scenes and protests by Samajwadi party (SP) and Janata Dal (united)members.
The Bill is popularly known as the Women’s Reservation Bill, seeks to provide for one third reservation of seats for women in parliament and state assemblies.
When the Union Law Minister,Mr.Bharadwaj stood to introduce the bill, an SP party member Abu Azim Azmi, actually rushed up towards the minister.Perhaps sensing the danger or not to allow the repeat of the incident that happened in the year 1998, when the bill was actually seized and torn in the Lok Sabha, the Congress I members formed a circular human corden surrounding the minister, Mr.Bharadwaj. But Mr.Azmi continued his efforts and even tried his best, but Minister Renuka Choudry and Panabaka Lakshmi physically held him back, even as the Prime Minister and other senior leaders watched.
Another Congress I member, Jayanthi Natarajan, put in his way, while minister of state Vilas Muttemwar also obstructed the member.
In the melee, Mr.Bharadwaj tabled the bill by voice vote..P.J.Kurien who was in the chair declared the bill as introduced and immediately adjourned the house for lunch.However, several SP members raised slogans opposing the bill while their colleagues tore the supplementary list of business and threw it into the well of the house.
In a rare show of solidarity several women members placed themselves next to members belonging to the parties opposed to the bill.These included RJD, JD(U) and SP members.
The bill was prebviously introduced in the Lok Sabha in the year 1996, 1998 and 1999 but it lapsed due to lack of political consensus on sub-quota for Dalits,OBCs and minority women.The Womens Reservation Bill will now be referred to a Parliamentary Committee.
It is an irony that in the name of consensus, the Women’s Reservation Bill has been dragged on rather without any justification for over a period of ten years, eventhough, there has been enough and requisite support to pass the bill into a law. At last, the bill has been just tabled in the Rajya Sabha amidst great drama and even now one cannot safely predict that the bill will be passed easily and become a law.
Above all, it is in Rajya Sabha, which is known for its educated members and eminent personalities, the bill had to be tabled, not to speak of its passage, amidst great drama, using physical force, thrust, pull and push. It is a shame on those persons who tried to scuttle the introduction of the bill.