A bill guaranteeing a third of seats for women in the Indian house of Parliament and state assemblies has finally been passed by the lower house. It was first proposed in 1996 and has been pending approval for decades due to opposition by some political parties.
After many hours of strong debate the Lok Sabha house passed it with close unanimity where 454 MPs voted in its favour and only two voted against it. The Rajya Sabha, the upper house, must now approve it before it can be signed into law by the President.
However, there is a long road ahead before it can be implemented. The Indian census first needs to take place in 2025. This exercise takes place every 10 years and was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2021. Another issue that could further complicate the bill’s implementation, is the reported plans to redraw boundaries of assembly seats to increase the overall number of constituencies. Former Congress president Sonia Gandhi called for the bill’s immediate implementation.
The governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is expected to gain fortune in the general elections next year, if the bill is passed.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the bill a “historic legislation” that will give women more participation in the political process.
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