Congress Rajya Sabha member Ranjeet Ranjan on Thursday asked why President Droupadi Murmu, a woman and the first person from the tribal community to hold the high office, was not invited for the opening of the new Parliament building.
Initiating a discussion on The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023, which seeks to provide 33 per cent reservation to women in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies, Ranjan also questioned why it took the BJP nine-and-a-half years to bring the bill despite promising it in the party’s election manifesto in 2014.
”I want to ask why the president was not invited to the inauguration of the new Parliament building. She is a woman and comes from a tribal community,” she said.
Stating that her party supports the bill, Ranjan questioned the need to call a special session to pass it instead of during a regular session.
”Limelight lene ke aadat hai (it is a habit to hog the limelight),” she said, adding that the BJP is now trying to use women before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
She also questioned the government on its intentions on several issues, saying it did not consult anyone before the demonetisation of high-value currency notes and added that 155 people died during the limited window to exchange the banned notes. It did not consult anyone when the three controversial farm laws were introduced, no one in government spoke when women wrestlers protested against a BJP MP over allegations of sexual harassment and two women were paraded naked in strife-torn Manipur, the Congress member said.
Ranjan also questioned the conditions of a delimitation exercise based on census data for giving reservations to women.
”You want to raise the number of seats (in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies) and then give women reservation. Why not give them a share in the present seats?” She also demanded reservations for OBCs, similar to that for SCs/STs.
Asking why the BJP took nine-and-a-half years to introduce the bill, she said the Congress-led UPA passed a women’s reservation bill in the Rajya Sabha in 2010, within a year of coming to power for the second time.