Reservation for Women
History does not repeat itself is a self-evident saying which a majority of the people tend to accept without any argument. But now we are witness to seeing history being repeated every year in Parliament in the matter of hypocrisy of all political parties in the context of the Women’s Reservation Bill. The scenes of unpolished politicians behaving in a more unruly behavior over the years looks nothing short of ridiculous. Politicians who year around promise women an equal status, opposing the bill which aims at helping women has become a common site and a good source for headlines by the media. So let us consider, should women be actually given reservation?
Political parties assure its support to the Bill which disarms women activists. And then a farce rather than a tragedy is played out by so-called radical politicians, jumping into the well of the House, tearing copies of the Bill and making impossible for proceedings to continue – the House gets adjourned, the Bill is thrown into the dustbin till it is revived in subsequent years with the same result. It is time this mockery stopped, considering that the Congress, the BJP and Left parties proclaim that they are for the Bill in the present form, and really want it to become a law. An alternative to the Bill suggests amending the Representation of People Act, 1951, to compel political parties to mandatorily nominate women candidates for at least one-third of the seats on the pain of losing recognition. This is politically flawed and not even constitutionally permissible. That apart, this alternative will not achieve the objective behind the Amendment Bill, because even if a third of women candidates are put up by political parties, there is no guarantee that the same number will get elected.
Secondly the argument that the women’s quota wilt be monopolized by urban women is a red herring. There are about 200 OBC candidates in the Lok Sabha, it is a stark reality dial, it is not their public service, but merely the caste configuration that has preferred them. Similar results will follow even after the reservation for women. The only difference will be a big Chink in the male bastion. That is the real reason for opposition by male MPs.
In the matter of the fight against injustice and discrimination, women as a class should not be weakened by seeking to bifurcate them on caste lines. Reservation for women would check the muddy politics that the men folk have brought about. It would bring social consciousness to political life. It will also help in brushing the criminal-politician nexus – the real danger to our democracy. It will not only help in bringing a new driving force in politics, but also help to form a society safe for women to live in.