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Sonia echoes party’s call for OBC quota within women’s Bill; Cong govt differed in 2010

Starting the discussion on the women’s reservation Bill in the Lok Sabha, Congress Parliamentary Party chairperson Sonia Gandhi demanded reservation for OBCs in the legislation. But the UPA Government, which had managed to get the women’s reservation Bill in the Rajya Sabha in March 2010, had a different view.

Replying to the discussion on the Bill on March 9, 2010, before its passage in the Rajya Sabha, the then Law Minister M Veerappa Moily said: “I would like to clarify about reservation for OBCs, minorities and the rest. As you all know, as on today, we have reservations only for Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes. We do not have the data for the entire nation because after 1931, no national Census (for castes) has been done.”

“A backward class in one state may not be the backward class in another state. If we want real reservation for OBCs and minorities, we need to address many other issues,” he said.

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Moily added: “After passing of this Constitutional amendment, there will be a law which will be passed by Parliament, which will look into the determination of seats and also decide on quotas… Determination of seats and also reservation will be addressed by a separate law, just like the Delimitation Act.”

When BJP members pointed out that Moily used the word “quota” (suggesting quota within the women’s Bill) Moily said: “That was wrongly said. That was a slip of the tongue.”

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Speaking on the Bill brought by the Modi government Wednesday, Sonia demanded that a caste census be conducted immediately.

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“The Congress party supports this Bill. We will be happy if this Bill is passed. But, at the same time, we have concerns. I want to ask a question: For the last 13 years, Indian women have been waiting for their political responsibility. Now they are being told to wait for some more years, Sonia said, adding: “How many years? Two years, four years, six years, eight years? Is this behaviour towards Indian women appropriate? The Indian National Congress demands that this Bill be operationalised immediately. Along with that, caste census should be conducted to ensure reservation for women from Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and OBCs… The government should take those steps needed to make it a reality,” Gandhi said.

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She said any delay in implementation of the Bill would be gross injustice to Indian women.

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