...No need to link Women’s Reservation with Census and Delimitation: Shri Mallikarjun Kharge

Excerpts of the speech of Congress President and Leader of Opposition (Rajya Sabha) Shri Mallikarjun Kharge on the Women’s Reservation Bill in the Rajya Sabha on September 21, 2023.

Translated from Hindi

Addressing the Rajya Sabha, Shri Mallikarjun Kharge said - Honourable Chairman Sir, I am grateful to you for allowing me to speak on the Constitution (128thAmendment) Bill. I fully support this bill with all my heart. My Party and all the people here, all the people of India, heartily support it, but I came to know only 2 days ago that this bill is going to come up. Sir, you had said in Jaipur on September 4, 2023 - The day is not far when women will get their proper representation in Parliament and Assemblies.

That means, you had decided this, you had come to know about it and you publicized it there in Jaipur. So now, what is greater than that if the government... when our Chairman said, we also felt that this bill is going to come, but I wanted to let the women members speak, everyone here, from any party. That’s why I didn’t pressurize you to talk more on this. I will speak in few words, but when I saw the reply, I listened to the Finance Minister’s reply for almost 50 minutes, then I thought about taking your special permission to give me some time so that I can put a few words in front of you. Sir, I start with a verse, ‘Komal hai tu, kamzor nahi.., (Women)’

“Komal hai kamzor nahi tu, Shakti ka naam hi naari hai. Jag ko Jeevan dene vali, Maut bhi tujhse haari hai, Satiyon ke naam par tujhe jalaaya gaya, Meera ke naam par zeher pilaaya gaya. Sita jaisi agni pareeksha bhi hui, Jag mein ab tak jaari hai. Bohot ho chuka, ab mat sehna, Tujhe itihaas badalna hai. Komal hai tu, kamzor nahi, Shakti ka naam hi naari hai.”

So, that is why, we are promoting this ‘Shakti’and indeed, everyone is supporting and everyone spoke in their support as well. Sir, I had also brought many figures, but due to paucity of time, I cannot speak much. Since they highlighted their achievements, the Home Minister told in the Lok Sabha, here the Finance-Minister told about his achievements, but I also wanted to tell what we did, but I do not want that here, because this bill is special, it is for women, it is for women power. That is why, I did not want to spoil it by bringing in development. Because the things being talked about were like deviating from the topic- the bill should have been the priority, but all the peripheral things came up instead like they did this, they gave gas, they gave road, and so on. Now, it is okay that they had to speak and they can speak, but Mr. Chairman, I have an objection to this. Clause 5 of this Bill says that reservation will be applicable only when the delimitation exercise is completed. Delimitation will also be done after the completion of the census process. This clearly means that 2 mandatory conditions have been placed before women’s reservation - one is census, the other is delimitation.

Till this happens, there will be no implementation and you are trying to take so much credit. So, it’s like that you have thrown it away and letting it go the way it is. I am not saying that as the Home Minister had once said that he will give Rs. 15 lakh each, will give 2 crore jobs, he said all this, then later he was asked where are our 2 crore jobs, where are our 15 lakhs each? Then I read in the paper, I believe even you know that too, ‘These are mere election jumlas’, he had said, not me.

So, it should not happen that now the bill has been introduced, we are all supporting it, it has been passed here, then this bill should not turn out to be a mere ‘jumla’. So, I want to get it implemented. Everyone is unconditionally supporting in its favour, because we want it and second thing - the question is that there is no need to link women’s reservation with census and delimitation. You can do it if, because we have opposed many things, the bills have been passed here, you know the labour bills have been completely passed, the farmer bills have been completely passed, 750 people died, sitting there on the border. When the farmer said, I am not saying it in a day... When they were sitting, they were sitting for one year, two years, I am saying it everywhere.

So, despite all this, you passed that farmer bill, so you should have done the same for this one. You are asking us why didn’t we do it, then why didn’t you do it for 10 years? I am asking if you can pass other laws in one year, you can do demonetization, then why can’t you do this? And that too at 8 o’clock in the night! What do you say? You say - Brothers and sisters, listen, from tomorrow these 1,000 and 500 notes will not be valid, will become junk, will not be legal tender. So, when you can do such big things and now when everyone is accepting this bill, there was no opposition, so you could have brought even this bill.

So, you did not try to bring it and second thing - there is reservation in urban bodies, there is reservation in district panchayat, there is reservation in taluka panchayat. Now do the same on the exiting numbers. When it will increase, the census will come, then the members too will increase, along with it the number of women will also eventually increase.

You can do anything that you manifest, because when you brought this new Parliament House from the old Parliament House, even after bringing it and our Finance-Minister said that we will bring a new bill for women in this new Parliament House, all this was said. So, I would say that you could have done it right there, but it did not happen. After this, the second thing is that there is no reservation for backward classes. These are the figures of SC, ST, according to that if there are 100 seats, out of which there are 1 to 10 or 30 seats, one-third of SC, ST, you can easily do it or you can do it in rotation, you can do it in some other way, but there are more than 60 percent OBC people, what will their women get? You say, if their women are to be given that, then they can be given by amending the Constitution or by bringing it in amendment. So now that should be done, but you left that. So, the rest is like this. Then what will happen now in general only in women reservation... I am not opposing it. Rather, I will support, but why are you leaving the backward classes, why are you leaving those women, why are you not giving those women? Do you want to push them back? Do you not want them to be with you? So, this is necessary. That’s why we asked you questions and talked about this and when will it be implemented? Will it happen in 1 year, will it happen in 2 years, will it happen in 6 years, will it happen in 8 years? (interruption)....

Sir, will you do it in 2 years, 5 years or 10 years, tell me a limit, when are you going to implement, tell the date, tell the year, because you have the commitment. You yourself said this. If there is a commitment then tell us the year, tell us the month, tell us the date. At least say that we will implement it at this time, we will do it, we will do it in this month because otherwise what will happen - It will be a mere ‘Jumla’. So, you must think about it and if we want to take women forward in this process of nation-building, then it is like 75 percent of people from SC, ST and backward class together will deny it. If you do not pay attention there, then it will be very difficult.

Everything is not done by talking emotionally, you should do it practically. So, don’t ask others why you did it - I made a mistake, then what are you doing yourself? I made a mistake, leave it, I got a punishment, then why are you not doing it? Is just giving speeches your job? If there is any mistake, it has to be corrected, you can say it. So, I have to say this and especially to you, I want to tell you that the shortcomings in this bill... as one of our members said, brother, if it is passed today, at least bring it in the winter session. Let it be fixed - we are ready to support. Just like we raised our hands today, we will raise our hands even at that time. They say in our Kannada, that is, if you are just rubbing ghee on your nose like this, then this should not happen. You can’t say one thing and do something else. That’s not right.

If Shah Saheb wants, Home Minister can do it, but he said that I am going there. He left and went away. These are the people who are going to take decisions. No minister has the right to take decisions. They have no power, that’s why... Hey, I know who has what power (said after ruling party MPs created disruption). Sir, I would like to tell you one more thing, this has become a problem for us in many things. All this happened on May 9, 2008, and February, 2010 and after that you said, we had this bill, how was it defeated, it was passed on March 9, 2010, with an overwhelming majority of 186 votes, but after that in the Lok Sabha, but this is what I want to say. Now there is no question of losing here, so I would say that you bring OBC here.

BJP President Nadda Saheb was taunting us so much that only three backward class people are secretaries. You take a look at the past. Now, when people from SC/ST cannot even become the secretary there, cannot become the principal secretary, how can they take decisions? Even no one from SC/ST is at the joint secretary post. All the RSS people have been brought there and whoever comes after filling the post there, after that scrutiny, that file goes ahead and every minister has a person associated with the RSS sitting near him. So, whatever it is, it is not good. Therefore, I would request you that there should be SC/ST people and OBC people in the secretariat and in order to give representation to as many women as possible, you should bring OBCs forward. This is what I would say.

Sushma Swaraj ji had praised it the day this earlier bill came. Senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj had said in praise of it - I am happy that this bill has been introduced. I am also happy that it has been introduced in the Rajya Sabha. It will no longer be ineffective, that is, there will be no lapse. That is, their leaders also praise us, but you keep questioning - from morning-to-evening, what have we done in 70 years, what have we done in 50 years. The world knows what we have done sir. From the Home-Minister to the Finance-Minister, tell us today when, in which month, in which year it will be implemented and whether there will be reservation for OBC women in it or not? Sir, there are two sentences...-

Din ki Roshni khwabon ko banaane mein guzar gayi, Raat ki neend bachon ko sulaane mein guzar gayi. Jis ghar mein mere naam ki takhti bhi nahi, Saari umar us ghar ko sajaane mein guzar gayi…

So that’s why, you need to fix the reservation of OBC, fix the date, that’s all. Having said this, I thank you that at least you smiled and gave us this opportunity.

Thank you so much!