NEW DELHI: The Indian government on Tuesday moved a bill to reserve a third of seats in the lower house of parliament and state assemblies for women, reviving an old proposal expected to boost the standing of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party among women.
The contentious legislative proposal has been hanging for decades due to opposition from some heartland political parties and needs the approval of both houses of parliament and a majority of state legislatures to become law.
Its revival comes months before general elections are due by May 2024 when Modi seeks a third term. Analysts say the chances of the bill getting passed in parliament have brightened as opposition to it has shrunk over the years.
It is the latest in a series of moves by the government that the ruling nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has projected as “pro-women” “We want more and more women to join the development process of the country,” Modi told a special five-day parliamentary session.
Women make up almost half of India’s 950 million registered voters but only 15 per ment of parliament and about 10pc of state legislatures, pushing the world’s largest democracy to the bottom of global rankings on gender parity in legislatures.
The 33pc reservation for women will not apply to the upper houses of parliament and state legislatures.
Opposition lawmakers welcomed the revival of the proposal but pointed out that implementing it could take years as it requires boundaries of constituencies to be redrawn, which in turn can only be done after a population census.
Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2023