Ranjana Kumari, director of Centre for Social Research, India (CSR, India), tweeted that Congress President Rahul Gandhi has directed its few state governments and that of its alliance partners to pass a resolution to reserve one-third of its seats in the Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies for women.
I am happy our young leadership believes in equality enshrined in Indian Constitution.Congress President @RahulGandhi writes to Congress/Alliance Governments in States to pass a resolution to reserve one third of the seats in the LokSabha and Legislative Assemblies for women. pic.twitter.com/syoJBy54CF
— Ranjana Kumari (@ranjanakumari) December 10, 2018
CSR, India is an NGO that is registered under the FCRA Act and was founded by a group of social scientists from the Jawahar Lal Nehru University. It has received grants to the tune of over Rs. 3 crores in 2017 as reported in its annual report.
Since its campaign for the 2014 Assembly Elections, the Congress party has been emphasizing extensively on women empowerment. The Congress President is focusing intensely on creating a feminist vote bank, which could be found in a lot of urban centres across the country, by riding on the issue of reservations for women in politics. The Congress party’s track record when it comes to actual women empowerment is rather pitiable, to say the least, therefore, it is using a harebrained idea which has an appeal only among far-left feminists to portray itself as the party for women.
We all remember how the former Prime Minister and Rahul Gandhi’s father, Rajiv Gandhi, conducted himself during the Shah Bano controversy. Rajiv Gandhi overturned a Supreme Court verdict to appease the Muslim fundamentalists for whom women empowerment is a sin worthy of significant punishment and even death on certain occasions. Like his father, Rahul Gandhi has also approached the matter of Triple Talaq, which is a cause for remarkable atrocities on Muslim women, with the objective of appeasing Muslim fundamentalists rather than seeking the welfare of Muslim women. The Congress party’s vision of women empowerment is limited to support for token actions which do very little to actually help women on the ground.
Congress IT Cell head, Divya Spandana, a woman herself, was named in the FIR in the Chirag Patnaik sexual harassment case. Patnaik, a member of Congress IT Cell, was accused by a colleague of sexual misconduct. The employee also alleged that Spandana, instead of taking any action, had “mentally harassed” her.
The history of the Women’s Reservations Bill itself is very complicated. The BJP, the Congress and the Left parties have always been supportive of the bill but have cited the lack of support on the issue from their coalition partners for their inability to pass the bill. In fact, in 2010, the Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha after the BJP voted in favour of the bill along with the Congress and the Left.
The reaction of the liberals on the parties opposing the reservations bill itself is quite interesting. Lalu Prasad Yadav’s party, the RJD, which has been one of the most vocal opponents of the bill who even, continues to be a darling of the Left. The Samajwadi Party, another extremely vocal opponent, has its leader, Akhilesh Yadav, fawned over by journalists in the mainstream media. The opposition isn’t really a partisan issue, however, as the JD(U), for a long long time, wasn’t in favour of the bill either.
The BJP, for its part, sought the support of the Congress party for the passage of three bills related to women empowerment ahead of the monsoon session in 2018. The bills included the one banning Triple Talaq and the Women’s Reservations Bill. However, it doesn’t appear that the Congress party responded positively to the BJP’s proposal. Thus, when it came to the essentials of it, the Congress party did not back their words with credible action. The Congress party thus proved that Muslim fundamentalists mattered more for it than women empowerment.
Regardless of the politics of it, the Women Reservations Bill is a very bad idea. It is one of the many tokenisms that is widely accepted on the Left of the political spectrum as credible measures to address a very important issue. Reservations for women in politics is extremely unlikely to improve the condition of women on the ground. More importantly, there is already enough division in the country, the last thing we need is the introduction of the gender divide.
The message that is conveyed by the Women Reservations Bill is that men cannot adequately represent the concerns of their female electorate or that women are not capable of achieving exactly what their male counterparts achieve if given an equal playing field. It completely defies all manners of logic and common sense. If the idea is that women representatives can reflect the concerns of their own gender better, then why not have two representatives from each constituency, one from each gender, to represent the concerns of their respective gender? Of course, it’s deluded to assume that anything better could be achieved by such a settlement and would only decrease the efficiency of our political system overall.
There is also the assumption that men and women act differently when they have been granted political power. The assumption falls flat when one takes into account the conduct of women in positions of political power. For instance, Mamata Banerjee’s callousness towards rape in her own state is quite well known. In Germany, Angela Merkel risked the safety and security of German women when she allowed migrants into the country. Hillary Clinton, the former First Lady of the USA and presidential candidate, is accused to have silenced the victims of her alleged sexual predator husband. And the examples go on and on. The essential point is the assumption behind reservations for women in politics that men and women act differently when in power is completely absurd. Divya Spandana’s own alleged conduct, as mentioned above, confirms that men and women hardly behave any differently when in positions of power.
The notion that women empowerment could be achieved by reserving seats for women in politics is based on the fantasies of far-left feminists and has no basis in reality.
The BJP needs to take control of the narrative and crush this far left delusion before it gains ground. The BJP should not play it opponents’ game. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done far more for women than any reservations for them ever could. Providing women with LPG connections, electrification of houses, the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign, has empowered crores and crores of women to take control of their own lives and their destiny. Reservations for women would not have done anything for these countless traditional women whose lives were completely transformed by the various schemes initiated by the NDA government. A woman, Sonia Gandhi, did absolutely nothing to help these women. It took a “patriarchal Hindu man”, who has risen from the dredges of society to become the Prime Minister of the country, to understand the pains of these women and rid them of the extreme hardships they had to endure all their lives.
Essentially, the Bill only serves the Left’s lust for power and is merely another ploy in the hands of opportunists like Rahul Gandhi to play politics over. It is unlikely to alter the condition of women in our country in manner. However, it is likely to further decrease the efficiency of our political processes by making it mandatory for women to be nominated from certain constituencies even when there are better male alternatives available considering, gender can never be a marker for efficiency. Democracy is about the will of the people and the will of the people is not dependant on whether the candidate is a man or a woman, but which individual can help them in meeting their aspirations better.