Women's Reservation: Modi Government in Tearing Hurry to Propose but Not to Wed

If the Modi government truly wanted to implement reservation for women, would it not have passed the Bill at the inception of its takeover of state power, giving itself room to accomplish the historic deed?

There are men and other men.

There are women and other women.

Thankfully not all men or women are ever of one mind.

Indeed, women, having sharper brains and fewer crude stakes, are harder to persuade than most men.

Think that despite the relentless propagation of a cult, the recent seven assembly bypolls saw the King’s party lose four of the seven, including one in the all-saffron Uttar Pradesh (Ghosi).

And remember that women voters now outnumber their male counterparts.

So, was it yet another desperate gambit to bring on the Women’s Reservation Bill in a “special Session” (not waiting for the scheduled Winter Session) of parliament, as if to have the measure implemented in the coming assembly elections?

Of course not.

This was meant to be another decorative candle to be dangled with yet another golden promise for the future.

And some future too.

Note that the Bill stipulates that the reservation will be implemented only after a national census is held, followed by a nationwide delimitation exercise.

That delimitation exercise may of course prove to be the most contentious political battleground than anything we have seen before.

In what way may parliamentary constituencies be rearranged (gerrymandered, if you know what I mean) in order to produce the maximum fruit for the ruling party we do not know.

If the discredited delimitation exercise conducted in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is anything to go by, that nationwide exercise may take forever, and then some.

Consider that the southern states, having performed far better in matters of development and population control, will stand to lose to those other states whose numbers have swelled with no comparable growth to boast of.

So much for fair play.

Will then the expansion of constituencies in northern states and their shrinkage in the south receive happy agreement?

Think again.

The Women’s Bill thus has clearly been a proposal with no date for a happy nuptial.

Consider that had the Modi government indeed wanted grandly to implement reservation for women in parliament and the assemblies, it would have brought on the Bill at the inception of its takeover of state power, giving itself room to accomplish the historic deed.

Any good reason why this was not done?

Because most men folk who aspire to parliament may make progressive noises but are at heart distressed by the prospect of losing their perches.

On the matter of content, the Indian National Congress, and indeed most parties who constitute the INDIA grouping of opposition parties, have now thrown a political spanner into the ruling juggernaut.

How about the inclusion of women who belong to the Other Backward Classes (OBCs)?

This is a dreadful catch-22.

Given that the ruling party, especially Shri Modi, has been courting this class of Indians, how may they explain the exclusion of their women members from the provisions of the Bill, since the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are included?

Is this anomaly set to unleash another Mandal movement?

If yes, this may indeed prove too hot for the saffronites to manipulate.

And, if they do concede the demand, how may they refuse OBC menfolk the same benefit?

Will the cult then succeed in persuading India’s women that its intentions have been clean, or will most citizens see through the subterfuge?

Remember, the fifteen lakh for each citizen did not come, nor did the two crore jobs every year.

Nor did the income of our farmers double as was promised.

If these, as the now honourable home minister once said, were just chunavi jumlas (poll gimmicks), why may India’s very smart women believe that the provisions of the Bill will become a reality should the BJP come back to power in 2024?

The fat is in the fire.

But there is no telling what cuisine may or may not come forth to the feminine spread.

Badri Raina taught at Delhi University.