New Delhi, July 14: Will the Narendra Modi government pass the long-pending Women's Reservation Bill in Parliament?
If not, the Centre is likely to face the backlash of women's rights groups from across the country, who have come together to raise the demand for the passage of the bill in the upcoming monsoon session of Parliament. The monsoon session of Parliament will start from July 17.
It's not just the passage of the bill, but this time women activists want 50 per cent reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies instead of 33 per cent.
On Thursday, a women's collective-- the National Alliance for Women's Reservation Bill-- comprising of more than 1,600 organisations, pitched for the passage of the "long-pending" bill in the upcoming monsoon session of Parliament.
The women's collective has also come up with the slogan--"Ab 33 per cent nahi 50 per cent" (This time not 33 per cent, but 50 per cent)--to stress their demand for 50 per cent reservation in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies.
"The Prime Minister had congratulated African countries for women's majority in their Parliament. But when it came to his country, he never said a single word about this bill," general secretary of the National Federation of Indian Women, Annie Raja, said.
"This is the time to act so that women are able to contest a maximum number of seats in the next election," she added.
According to figures, women hold a mere 12 per cent of the seats in Parliament and nine per cent in state assemblies, informed director of the Centre for Social Research, Ranjana Kumari.
"Unless there are more women in politics, their concerns cannot be addressed effectively," she added.
Director of the Joint Women's Programme, Jyotsna Chatterjee, said that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had "committed" support to the bill in its 2014 election manifesto, and now it was time for the party to stand by it.
"It is high time to prove what they had declared in their election manifesto. The government says 'beti bachao beti padhao' (save girls, educate girls), but what about her political rights?" she asked.
For long, most political parties including the Congress had promised to pass the bill, but several leaders like Lalu Prasad Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav are strongly against such a reservation for women.
Indian politics, like most other fields, is dominated by men, thus women-related issues hardly get any attention. The latest case is the 12 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST) levied on sanitary napkins, while there is no GST on condoms.