New Delhi: The Congress Working Committee resolution on September 17 demanding passage of the long-pending Women’s Reservation Bill to provide 33 percent reservation in the Lok Sabha and in the state Assemblies, was former party chief Sonia Gandhi’s idea to checkmate the government’s plans to clear the legislation during the special Parliament session, CWC members said on Tuesday.
“We have always been demanding passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill as we were the ones to pass it in the Rajya Sabha in 2010. However, there were reports that the government may bring the bill during the special session of Parliament starting September 18. Soniaji always backed the legislation and wanted that the CWC resolution be passed demanding passage of the bill during the special session of Parliament. We sensed that the government wanted to take credit for the bill and therefore passed a resolution in the CWC a day before the beginning of the special session,” Congress Working Committee permanent invitee Girish Chodankar told ETV Bharat.
The CWC member alleged that the Narendra Modi government did nothing over the key bill and was pushing it just months ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls as it feared the opposition alliance INDIA. “The BJP has been in power at the Centre for almost 10 years now. They never thought of the Women’s Reservation Bill. This sudden rush is to cover up their failures and to counter the opposition alliance INDIA which will defeat them in the 2024 national polls,” said Chodankar.
“The Congress passed the bill in the Rajya Sabha but could not get it through the Lok Sabha where we were dependent on our allies. But our leadership always remained committed to the bill. The BJP has had a brute majority in the Lok Sabha since 2014 but never bothered to push the Women’s Reservation Bill as they had internal divisions over the legislation. Now they are trying to project a different image,” he said.
Echoing the same, CWC members Rajani Patil and Kumari Selja said that the BJP only talks about women’s empowerment. They asked as to why they had been waiting for nine years
According to Chodankar, a former Goa unit chief, the Congress strategists had prepared a plan to counter the BJP’s propaganda over the Women’s Reservation Bill and launched a social media campaign over the issue soon after the CWC passed the resolution.
“Earlier, the Congress social media lacked punch. But over the past few years the social media team has become very strong and counters the BJP agenda aggressively. Soon after the CWC resolution, the social media team started trending facts like how former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi talked about empowering women and how Soniaji, Rahulji and Priyankaji backed the legislation consistently over the past few years. Soniaji’s and Rahul’s letters to the Prime Minister over the issue and their support to the bill at various interactions were put out and trended on the social media,” said Chodankar.
“If the BJP tries to take credit for the bill, we will tell people that our leaders had always been for empowering women and how the Congress pressure worked on the central government. The special session of Parliament, the suspense around its agenda and all the discussion around One Nation, One Election issues were all attempts to divert public attention from the basic issues like lack of jobs and price rise that we had been flagging,” he said.