Last Updated: October 14, 2023, 21:57 IST
Former Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday asserted the opposition INDIA alliance would fight for the implementation of the Women’s Reservation Bill passed recently by the Parliament. Hitting out at the Centre, she said the last nine years has seen a sustained effort on the part of the Narendra Modi government to “turn our women purely into symbols to be counted and appreciated only in their restricted, traditional role in a patriarchal framework.”
Addressing the ruling DMK’s Women’s rights conference here, she said her husband, the late Rajiv Gandhi brought the historic 33 per cent reservation for women in Panchayati raj, the local self-governments which spurred an entirely new phenomenon of women leadership at the grassroots level.
It was a vital stepping stone towards the reservation on a similar one thirds of seats in the legislative bodies which the Congress pioneered in Parliament and outside. Now, the Women’s Reservation Bill has finally been passed due to “our relentless persistence and efforts; of all of us, not just the Congress.” However, “as we all know, it is still a long way to come.” She recalled the interventions made in the Parliament by opposition MPs on the actual implementation of the Bill, whether it would be in one year, two or three years.
“We have no idea,” she said and added though “some of you men are happy, but we are not; we women are not.” She asserted the INDIA alliance would fight for the implementation of Women’s Reservation Act. “We are going to fight for it till we eventually get that whether you men like it or not.”
The Women’s Reservation Bill introduced by the UPA-II was passed by the Rajya Sabha but a lack of consensus prevented it from being passed in the Lok Sabha. The Tamil Nadu government under late Chief Ministers CN Annadurai and M Karunanidhi laid the foundation for incredible changes in status and opportunities for women, she said.
“Today Tamil Nadu stands as a beacon of women’s equality and women’s development.” Decades ago, in 1973, the five-time Chief Minister Karnanidhi brought the provision of reservation for women in police department. Today, a fourth of the police force in Tamil Nadu are women. Another important initiative of Karunanidhi was reservation for women in government positions. As a result, the participation of women in government services exceeds 30 per cent and recently Chief Minister M K Stalin has increased it to 40 per cent, Gandhi said.
She lauded the state government’s initiatives like the mid-day meals for students, the promotion of women empowerment which includes education. Many of such women empowerment initiatives and programmes have not been reflected at the national level. Instead of mitigating problems faced by women, the last nine years has seen a sustained effort on the part of the Narendra Modi government to “turn our women purely into symbols to be counted and appreciated only in their restricted, traditional role in a patriarchal framework,” she alleged.
Further she said, “I am confident that we, the like-minded parties of the INDIA alliance can and will take urgent steps needed to make women’s equality a reality. It is my fervent hope that we the INDIA alliance will see to it that the bill will be implemented as soon as possible; we will all work together to see to it that it happens.” She reinforced that this is the alliance’s goal and when the constituents of the combine fought together, they shall emerge victorious. “This is our goal,this will be the INDIA alliance goal and this is what we women must fight for, if we fight all together, we shall be victorious.” “Vetri namathey, (victory is ours) nandri (thank you),” she said in Tamil.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)