When Congress comes to power in 2024, we will amend women’s reservation bill: Kharge

Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge while addressing an election rally challenged the BJP on women empowerment (X Photo)

When Congress comes to power in 2024, we will amend women’s reservation bill: Kharge

The Congress chief also questioned the Modi government’s seriousness about women empowerment as it has put off the implementation of the proposed law for 10 years.

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Addressing a rally in Jaipur in poll-bound Rajasthan, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Saturday (September 23) said his party would amend the women's reservation bill if voted to power at the Centre in 2024.

There are no major legal complications in implementing the bill right away, but the Narendra Modi government putting it off for 10 years, Kharge said.

While supporting the bill in Parliament, the Congress demanded that it be implemented with immediate effect and a quota for women from Other Backward Classes (OBC) included in it.

“When our government comes in 2024, the first thing we will do is make amendments to the bill,” Kharge said.

The Constitution (128th Amendment) Bill, which seeks to reserve a third of the seats in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies for women, was passed by Parliament earlier this week. It was the first bill to be taken up and passed in the new Parliament building.

Ex-Prez Kovind not invited to lay foundation stone for New Parl Building?

In his address, Kharge alleged that former President Ram Nath Kovind was not invited for the foundation laying of the new Parliament building because he is an “untouchable”. “If the foundation laying was done by an untouchable, then naturally it would have to be washed with Gangajal (water from the Ganges),” he said, referring to the former President's caste.

Kharge said President Droupadi Murmu was not invited for the inauguration of the new Parliament building while many others, including actors, were invited. “This is an insult to the president,” he said. “...Lok Sabha is summoned by the President and not by the prime minister. But there is no place for (the President) and then they say that they respect women a lot,” he said.

The Congress leader also questioned the Narendra Modi government's intention behind bringing the women's reservation bill, saying the BJP does not want to give reservation to women even though it does not say so.

Kharge said Sarojini Naidu was the first woman president of the Congress and asked, “In 100 years, has any woman become president of BJP or RSS?” He said the BJP thought of the women's reservation bill just ahead of elections as several opposition parties have formed the INDIA bloc. “When Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and I together came up with the idea of INDIA, the women's bill came to their mind,” he said.

Kharge said the special session of Parliament was called for five days because Prime Minister Modi had to show off the new Parliament building and it ended in four days. Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are for discussion on people's issues and resolving them, not for the purpose of “exhibition”, he added.

'BJP protested when Congress brought in women's reservation bill'

Targeting the BJP over the women's reservation bill, Kharge said when the erstwhile Congress-led government brought a bill for women reservation the BJP had opposed it. “...it was stopped because of them and today they are roaming around as heroes. These people are smart,” he said. “These people neither have clear intentions nor clear policies. They just make speeches. We supported the bill, but it will be implemented in 2030... In 10 years, neither Modi nor others will be there,” Kharge further said.

The Congress chief said all the women who fought for the country's independence were in the Congress. “Mahatma Gandhi said, 'I will try to build such an India in which even the poorest of the poor will feel that this country is theirs and where there will be no discrimination and women will have equal rights as men.’ Did (RSS leader MS) Golwalkar say this? Have the people of Jana Sangh or BJP said so?” he asked.

“If there is any party that respects women, it is Congress. The first woman governor was Sarojini Naidu, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit was in the United Nations, Meira Kumar was the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the first woman prime minister was Indira Gandhi, the first woman President was Pratibha Patil,” he said. “What respect the BJP gives to its women leaders, you have seen that in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh,” he said, without elaborating.

He also took a swipe at the prime minister over the ethnic violence in Manipur.

'Vote Congress to power if you don’t want to remain slaves'

Kharge also asked people to protect the Constitution and democracy and warned that if this is not done, then people will become slaves. “If you don't want to become a slave, then vote for Congress. If you don't want to become a slave, then protect the Constitution and democracy,” he said.

He said the prime minister and BJP leaders always ask what the Congress did in 70 years. “How many times will you ask the same thing, it's been 10 years. I have an account of what we did, it is a long list,” he said.

Kharge also alleged Prime Minister Modi pitches four candidates against the Congress – one each of BJP, Enforcement Directorate (ED), Income Tax Department and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

(With agency inputs)

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