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Today in Politics: Stage set for women’s reservation Bill passage in Rajya Sabha amid consensus

A day after the Lok Sabha passed the women’s reservation Bill – the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023 – with near-unanimity, 454 votes in favour and two from the AIMIM against it, the stage is now set for the consideration and passage of the landmark legislation in the Rajya Sabha.

The Upper House is likely to take up the Bill providing for 33 per cent reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and the state Assemblies on Thursday, although it was not mentioned in the revised list of business for the day. Thursday marks the fourth day of the ongoing special session of Parliament, which will conclude on Friday.

The Bill is set to sail through smoothly in the Upper House given how different it is now from 2010, when its passage saw tension and disruptions.

Seven MPs from the SP, RJD and LJP were then removed from the Rajya Sabha by marshalls.

For one, the SP, one of the architects of the opposition to the Bill in 2010, has changed its stand, as Vikas Pathak reports.

In the Lok Sabha Wednesday, the SP and BSP supported the Constitutional amendment Bill, though with caveats.

“We voted for the Bill, but with queries. We wanted an OBC quota, a minority quota and immediate implementation of women’s reservation,” S T Hasan, SP Lok Sabha MP, told The Indian Express. “Women of the country will take the government to task for delaying the quota.”

On Thursday, SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav is likely to tweak the 2010 stand of opposition to the Bill by supporting it with caveats.

Also read | Women’s reservation: What is the road ahead, before it can be implemented

Although the then Union Law and Justice Minister Veerappa Moily had said in the Rajya Sabha that it would be difficult to have a sub-quota for OBCs within the Bill – given the fact that there was no data on OBC population in the absence of a caste census since 1931 – the Congress has now tweaked its stand.

With the Congress, and Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in the Lok Sabha, batting for an OBC quota within the women’s quota, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, who is Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, would reiterate the party’s stand in the Upper House.

Still woefully low, the representation of women in the Rajya Sabha has risen marginally now. Today, women constitute 13.02 per cent of the Upper House strength. Between 2008 and 2010, the percentage varied from 9.79 per cent to 11.15 per cent.

In the Lok Sabha Wednesday, wrapping up a discussion on the Bill, Union Home Minister Amit Shah assured the House of a “transparent process” to identify seats to be reserved for women. He said “the empowerment of women is not a political issue, it is a matter of principle” for “my party and my leader Narendra Modi ji”, Vikas Pathak, Liz Mathew and Deeptiman Tiwary report.

Responding to apprehensions of delay in the Bill’s implementation, Shah urged the Lower House to make a start – “Shri Ganesh toh kijiye” – and said the next government will conduct the census and the delimitation exercise soon after the next Lok Sabha elections and set in motion the process to make reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and the state Assemblies a reality.

He also took a swipe at the Congress over its demand for an OBC quota provision, saying “Your party never made an OBC the Prime Minister. The BJP has made an OBC the Prime Minister”.

After the passage of the Bill, Prime Minister Modi, in a post on X, said, “Delighted at the passage of The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023 in the Lok Sabha with such phenomenal support. I thank MPs across Party lines who voted in support of this Bill. The Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam is a historic legislation which will further boost women empowerment and will enable even greater participation of women in our political process.”

The Lok Sabha will Thursday hold a discussion on the success of the Chandrayaan-3 and other achievements of the nation in the space sector.

Just before he adjourned the House for the day after the passage of the women’s reservation Bill, Speaker Om Birla told the members that the Lok Sabha will take up a discussion on the success of India’s Moon mission and space journey.

The Rajya Sabha discussed this subject Wednesday, with Science and Technology Minister Jitendra Singh saying that the government has created an enabling atmosphere for the success of space programmes, rejecting Congress leader Jairam Ramesh’s assertion that these achievements should not be used as “an instrument of muscular nationalism”.

Hailing scientists for the Chandrayaan-3 mission, the Upper House adopted a unanimous resolution with the thumping of desks.

Reading out from the resolution, Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankar said, “This House recognises and appreciates the scientists, including the women scientists, for achieving this arduous feat with the successful soft-landing of Chandrayaan-3 near the unconquered south pole of the Moon. This accomplishment, along with the other space missions, will usher in long-lasting economic and social upliftment.”

Jitendra Singh also accused previous Congress governments of “regimenting” the space department and debarring the common people and industry from it.

In the poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is set to unveil a 108-foot statue of Hindu saint Adi Shankaracharya in Omkareshwar, a temple town which houses one of the 12 Jyotirlingas dedicated to Lord Shiva.

A day before unveiling the “Ekatmata Ki Pratima” (Statue of Oneness), Chouhan Wednesday said it will be a historic occasion and pointed out that though Adi Shankaracharya was born in present-day Kerala, he attained enlightenment at Omkareshwar while travelling through forests and mountains.

After gaining knowledge at the temple town in present-day Khandwa district, the 8th century philosopher travelled to Kashi, the CM said.

The multi-metal towering structure is perched atop the picturesque Mandhata hill on the banks of the Narmada river.

The Chouhan-led BJP government had earlier given its approval for a Rs 2,141.85-crore project for the construction of the Adi Shankaracharya statue along with a museum in Omkareshwar.

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The town is being envisioned as as a global hub for the Advaita Vedanta philosophy and the building of the statue marks the initiation of the first phase of this ambitious development project. The statue portrays Adi Shankaracharya as a 12-year-old boy, with its unveiling coming barely a couple of months ahead of the state Assembly elections.

Back in the national capital region, President Droupadi Murmu will inaugurate the first Uttar Pradesh international trade show in Greater Noida Thursday, which will continue till September 25.

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“The President of India, Smt Droupadi Murmu will visit Greater Noida (Uttar Pradesh) tomorrow (September 21, 2023) to inaugurate the first Uttar Pradesh International Trade Show,” a statement issued by the Rashtrapati Bhavan said.

(With PTI inputs)

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