PM Narendra Modi has been expressing deep concern for women in every election rally in the country after the passage of Women’s Reservation Bill in the Parliament of India with near unanimity, barring only two AIMIM members who opposed it in the Lok Sabha. However, the concern he expresses does not reflect in giving BJP’s tickets to women to contest elections or even in the organizational structure of the party. Therefore, his concern is misleading, in contrast to his words of caution to women not to be “misled” by the Opposition’s support for the Bill.
PM Modi was addressing a ‘Karyakarta Mahakumbh’ in Bhopal in the poll bound state Madhya Pradesh on Monday, 25 September 2023, to mark the culmination of the Jan Ashirwad Yatra, which travelled about 10,000 km through all 230 Assembly constituencies. He mentioned passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill which provides 33 per cent reservation for women in Lok Sabha and State Assemblies.
The same day after his return the BJP headquarter in New Delhi released the second list of candidates for Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha election 2023, which declared the contestants for 39 seats. There are only 6 women candidates in the list – Imarti Devi from Dabra (SC) constituency, Riti Pathak from Sidhi, Jyoti Daheriya from Parasia (SC), Ganga Bai Uikey from Ghoradongri (ST), Nanda Brahmane from Bikhangaon (ST), and Sangeeta Charel from Silana (ST).
It means BJP gave only about 15 per cent of seats to women, much less than the stipulated 33 per cent in the Women’s Reservation Bill. I should be noted that it was the first list of BJP candidates after passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill, which PM Modi government want to implement in 2029, and that too is linked to delimitation and census, which experts say would delay its implementation to 2039. Entire opposition has criticized this trick of the government to delay its implementation.
The fist list of candidates for Madhya Pradesh was released by BJP on August 17, 2023, over a month before the Women’s Reservation Bill was passed. The list had also declared party candidates for 39 seats out of which only 4 were women – Sarla Vijendra Rawat from Sabalgarh constituency, Priyanka Meena from Chachoura, Lalita Yadav from Chhatarpur, and Nirmala Bhuriya from Petlawad (ST). Thus, BJP gave only about 10 per cent representation to women, less than a third of what is stipulated in the Bill.
If we combine both the list, out of 78 candidates BJP gave only 10 seats to women, which is only about 13 per cent. It clearly shows that the level of concern being express by PM Modi does not reflect on the ground in giving the specified percentage of 33 per cent reservation to women in the Women’s Reservation Bill.
Perhaps this is the way of Nari Shakti Vandan in BJP, the party which called the newly passed Women’s Reservation Bill as celebrated “Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam”. However, their list of candidates and the lists of office bearers in the party organization and its various wings do not have even respectful number of women in them.
Take the BJP national executive. It has 90 members, but has only 14 women in it, which comes about to only 15.56 per cent. Moreover, all of them were appointed in 2021, when the 80-member national executive was reconstituted. BJP did not even care to introduce more women in the National Executive, despite the fact that it was expanded with introduction of 3 more leaders in December 2022, and 10 new members in July 2023 while removing three from the executive committee.
BJP parliamentary board has 11 members, out of them only 1 member is woman. It’s central election committee has 15 members, out of them only 2 are women. There are 36 BJP state/UT units in the country, out of which only 2 have women presidents. BJP rules 12 states and in all of them there are male chief ministers and even deputy chief ministers where there are. Had the concern expressed towards women by the PM Narendra Modi were genuine, there would not have entire absence of women chief or deputy chief ministers.
No woman found a place among 8 BJP National General Secretaries, there are only 42 women MPs (13.95 per cent) among 301 that BJP had won in 2019 Lok Sabha election, only 130 women MLAs (10.13 per cent) out of 1283 BJP MLAs in the country, and there are only 11 women ministers (14.47 per cent) in the Union Cabinet among 76 ministers.
Enen is such a dismal backdrop within the BJP under his leadership, PM Modi’s expressing deep concern in Madhya Pradesh rally has no real value, at a time when he has been electorally repositioning himself as champion of women’s cause especially in relation to the political representation to women. There are other issues too, especially crime against women, and India known how our women are almost unprotected by the government, especially during riots whether in Gujarat or Manipur or anywhere else. PM Modi government must rise to the lapses in his single engine government at the centre or double engine governments in the states.
PM Modi’s expressing concern for women sounded ridiculous in Madhya Pradesh when he accused the Opposition of only supporting the Women Reservation Bill out of “political compulsions”, while not mentioning the issue of OBC reservation that remains, along with its unimplementability in near future due to his government’s unnecessary linking it to delimitation and census. It must be implemented right now. Why should his government leave the implementation for future generation and try to take all the credit himself? Modi’s caution to women not to be “misled” by Opposition is in itself misleading, given the dismal track record of BJP itself regarding women’s representation at every level.
While referring to INDIA alliance, he made specific mention of RJD and SP, which are part of the Opposition alliance and said that they opposed the Women’s Reservation Bill earlier seeking reservation within the women’s quota for OBC. However, the question is still unanswered why the representation of OBC should be allowed to fall through the trick played in Women’s Reservation Bill? Opposition leaders are still demanding reservation for OBC women in Women’s Reservation Bill for the sake of social justice, and even a BJP leader Uma Bharati of Madhya Pradesh has threatened that they would not allow its implementation without OBC reservation in this legislation. It is clear that PM Modi’s not allowing OBC reservation in Women’s Reservation Bill is contested both within BJP and in the Opposition. (IPA Service)