Central govt tabled the Women's Reservation Bill, officially known as the Constitution 128th Amendment Act, 2023 | Image: PTI/File
Women will soon get a 33 per cent reservation in Lok Sabha and state Legislative Assemblies as the 128th Constitution Amendment Bill, 2023, turns into a law as it was tabled in Lok Sabha by Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal on Tuesday, September 19. While parties like the Samajwadi Party are demanding quota within quota for underrepresented section of women hailing from OBC and SC/ST category, let’s have a look at the statements of leaders who had vehemently opposed Women’s Reservation Bill earlier.
Samajwadi Party patriarch late Mulayam Singh has opposed reservation to women suggesting that Parliament when filled with women will result in increasing incidents of catcalling and eve-teasing. If the Women's Reservation Bill is passed, Parliament will be filled with women who will invite catcalls and whistles, said Mulayam Singh Yadav when Congress introduced the bill in Rajya Sabha. Yadav had also claimed that poor and rural women will not benefit from the Women Reservation Bill because they are not as attractive in comparison to those from the affluent class. Yadav had claimed the introduction of the bill as a conspiracy against ;leaders who have reached the Parliament through their hard work.
Yadav had earlier proposed that just 10 per cent seats shall be reserved for women, demanding additional benefits for women hailing from disadvantaged communities and minority communities. “I am not in favour of 33 percent reservation for women. This should be reduced. It should be reduced to a maximum of 10 percent,” said Mulayam Singh Yadav. He had demanded that such a bill should not come until minorities, Dalits, backward classes, especially Muslims, get reservation for their women as per their population.
The Samajwadi Party leader was not alone in the political spectrum to oppose the idea of reserving seats for women. Socialist leader Sharad Yadav was way ahead of him in opposing the idea. Sharad Yadav had vowed in Lok Sabha to end his life to prevent the passage of the Bill without a quota for Dalits and backward castes. In 1997, after the bill was introduced by Deve Gowda government, Sharad Yadav had said that women with short hair would dominate the legislature if the bill turns into a law.
“Kaun mahila hai, kaun nahin hai, keval bal kati mahila bhar nahin rahne denge (Who is a woman, who is not, only short-haired women won’t be allowed),” opined Sharad Yadav claiming that only privileged women would benefit from the bill. The comments drew flak during the time.