New Delhi. In a historical decision announced on the occasion of International Women’s Day, Indian parliament today unanimously passed the long-pending Women’s Reservation Bill, clearing the deck for 33% reservation for women in parliamentary and assembly seats. To secure support from all parties, a little modification was brought into the bill – there would be now 80% quota within this quota for men i.e. human-beings with masculine features.
“This is one small step for a woman, but a giant leap for the mankind,” said a visibly satisfied Lalu Prasad Yadav, who has been one of the most virulent critics of the bill in its pristine form and have been demanding a quota within quota for the socially disadvantaged groups.
Lalu Prasad Yadav and other leaders opposing the bill were quite cool with no quota for OBC, Muslims, and Dalits being provisioned in the changed bill.
“Men from these disadvantaged communities are capable enough to contest and win when pitched against men or women from different communities, we only doubted the capabilities of our women,” said an outspoken Mulayam Singh Yadav, whose daughter-in-law was defeated in a by-election last November.
Apart from these original opponents of the bill, many other members too expressed happiness after this quota within quota for men was introduced within the bill.
“Honestly, the bill makes more sense now,” said a Congress MP, with a smile.
But women rights groups have expressed outrage over the modification, claiming that the change had executed the soul of the bill. These groups are planning to move to the Supreme Court of India to get the law struck down on grounds of being unconstitutional.
“In essence, now they have debarred women from contesting 27% of the total seats, what crap is this?” protested Aarushi, a woman rights activist, swearing to fight a long drawn battle to get the bill restored and passed in its original form.
Interestingly, one of the legal recourses being considered by some of these activists is to interpret the definition of ‘men’ in the changed bill.
“Since they have defined men as human beings with masculine features, we could argue that women with masculine features qualify for the reservation. And perhaps that’s what is needed. Women need to adopt some masculine features like aggression and violence, if they are to be taken seriously for political participation,” postulated Rakhi Sawant, a leading feminist and lawyer.