While the tabling of the Bill is welcome, it must be remembered that it long overdue, and it is only the past 14 years of women's movement that has forced the Congress-led UPA to present the Bill in the Rajya Sabha.
Leaders like Laloo Yadav are indulging in blatantly anti-woman propaganda in the name of opposing the Bill, and the RJD and SP have withdrawn their support to the UPA Government on this issue. Laloo Yadav claims that he wants representation in the Bill for OBC women; but his remark that "India is a male-dominated country and here women will vote only where their husbands tell them; ...If I ask my wife, Rabri Devi, to vote for a particular party, do you think she will vote for another party?" reveals the patriarchal basis for his opposition to the Bill. It proves that those opposing the Bill are in fact wishing to preserve the "male-dominated" character of society and deny women an independent political voice. Parties like JD(U) are also displaying rank opportunism on the issue of the Bill, with different leaders speaking in calculatedly different voices. These forces are all banking on the fact that for the past 14 years, Congress and BJP alike have paid no more than lip service to the Bill, and they hope that this time too, aggressive propaganda against the Bill will once again be made an excuse by the Congress to postpone the passage of the Bill.
We demand that the Congress-led UPA ensure the passage of the Women's Reservation Bill without a single day's delay.