Women’s Reservation is a Central Step in the Empowerment of the Women of India

Shri Rahul Gandhi, MP and former Congress President addressed the media on special session of Parliament at the AICC Hdqrs on September 22, 2023.

Shri Rahul Gandhi said- The BJP came up with the idea of the special session. We appreciated that idea, with a lot of fanfare and pomp, we moved from the old building to the new building. The Prime Minister in a very dramatic gesture carried the Constitution of India from the old building, to the new building. And he said- that he is passing a very important law and we agree with him. Women’s Reservation is a central step in the empowerment of the women of India and it is a critical step, but when we read the fine print, we found something very interesting, two little subtexts were there, number one- this will be done after delimitation, number two- this will be done after census, what it means, is this bill will be implemented a decade from now. It is not going to be implemented today, and every woman in India should understand this, it is not going to be implemented, it’s going to be implemented, if it is implemented, ten years from now. So, this is a diversionary tactic - it’s a way of making everyone’s attention move away. The question is what are they moving away from? And the answer is the ‘Caste Census’ and I would like to explain why? In my research for my speech, I looked at how many officers in the Government of India, the senior most officers are Secretaries, how many Secretaries in the Government of India come from the OBC community? How many come from the Dalit community? How many come from the tribal community? And I was shocked to find that three officers in the government of India, Secretary level are OBC, first.

And then I asked another question, what budget do they control? And they control five percent of the budget. OBCs, Dalits, Tribals all put together, control six percent of the budget. Tribal’s control ‘point one something’ of the budget. So, this is a shocking finding and I said this in Parliament, my point being that, are the OBCs five percent of India, is that the amount of participation we want of the OBC community? So, the central question is how many OBCs are there in India? How many different communities are there in India? If we want to distribute power to the people of India, we have to know this number, otherwise we are working without data and so I placed this on the floor of the house and I said- Look! Please, tell us, how many OBCs, we have the data, I know, because the government of India has already done the census and all this data is available. Why is the Prime Minister not releasing this data? And second, what is this delay in the census? The caste census should be done now and the last caste census data should be released at once, now what was the BJPs answer, a very interesting answer, that it doesn’t matter, how many OBCs are in the government of India? What matters is that we have MPs, and MLAs who are OBC, No! That’s not the point because you can ask any MP, or any MLA, how much they participate in law making? How much they participate in, how the money in India is spent, they will tell you, there is no participation.

So, it is almost as if, they keep placing these OBCs MPs/MLAs into the Vidhan Sabha from one side, and taking away the real power of the OBCs from the other side. And as the Prime Minister keeps saying, he is an OBC leader, I want him to explain, why only three OBCs are there in the government of India? And why the OBC community, which is the backbone of this country, is responsible for only five percent of the budget? They have not been able to answer this question, in fact, when I said it, I saw in their face, the panic. Because this is the truth, this is what they are trying to distract India from. The fact is that the large mass of Indian people does not have any power.

On a question, are you going to make separate arrangements for OBCs in women’s reservation in the government in future? Shri Rahul Gandhi said that look, it is a simple thing, it has to be done step-by-step. When you get injured, an X-ray is done to find out where the weakness is in the structure, where the bone is cracked. I am just saying one thing - the first step is to do an X-ray of Hindustan through Caste Census to find out how many people are there, how many OBCs are there, how many different communities are there, how many tribals are there, and put it on the table. If we do not keep the data in front of us before taking the decision, then how will we take the decision? What you talked about is something to be talked of later, but first put the data in front of us. If you put the data I will answer you, today there is no data.

Secondly, I said in my speech that the freedom movement was a beginning & Distribution of power, transfer of power to the people of India. It was the first major step to transfer power to the people of India, after which we have taken more steps. The data that will emerge from Caste Census is a way to transfer more power to the people of India. I say that we have to transfer power to the OBCs, Dalits, Tribals, rest of the people, women of India, we have to transfer power to them, put power in their hands, that is the foundation. And there is a need for Caste Census because without understanding it, we cannot do this.

On a question that do you feel that in the present form, this bill will be able to achieve the desired goal considering that it is not being implemented now, Shri Rahul Gandhi said- The problem is the implementation, so what they have said is we are placing a bill on the floor of the house, but we will implement it ten years from now, what does that mean? That’s like the Prime Minister saying- You know we are going to place a bill on OBC caste census on the floor of the house and we are going to do it in thirty years, what does it mean? Means nothing, so we agree with the bill, remove these two clauses and make it happen today and don’t insult the intelligence of India’s women, because India’s women understand, what you are doing?