New Delhi, Sep 22 (FN Agency) The Congress “100 per cent regrets” it did not pass the women’s reservation bill when it was in power, Rahul Gandhi said Friday afternoon. He acknowledged that had his party accepted the demand for a quota for women from OBC communities – a demand it rejected in 2010 but is now championing – the landmark bill might have become law a decade ago. “100 per cent… (we have) 100 per cent regret,” Mr Gandhi said after calling out the Bharatiya Janata Party over a potential delay of a further six years or more before the new bill comes into effect. The call for a quota within a quota for OBC women was made by the Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal in 2010, when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government had tabled its version of the bill.
The Congress rejected that demand and a furious SP and RJD withdrew support. The bill, which had already cleared the Rajya Sabha, never made it to the Lok Sabha. The Congress has been critical of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s version of the bill since it mandates a census and delimitation, or redrawing of constituency boundaries, before implementation. This means it is unlikely to come into effect before the 2029 election and possibly not till 2034. The opposition has united to condemn the government for this delay, demanding provisions for conduct of a census and delimitation be dropped and the quota be implemented immediately. The BJP has hit back by pointing out the Congress’ inability to pass this bill and told Parliament Thursday the delay is to ensure “transparency” in deciding which seats are to be reserved.
“What this (the census and delimitation provisions) means is this bill won’t be implemented now… it won’ be implemented today and this is something every woman in India should understand.” “If at all it is implemented, it will be 10 years from now,” Mr Gandhi said. Mr Gandhi also attacked the BJP for using the women’s reservation bill as a “diversionary tactic” to shift focus from the demand for a caste census, which the Congress MP said is needed for a better understanding of the various castes and communities that make up India’s vast population.