Women's Reservation Benefit Possible in 2034, Says Kapil Sibal, Accuses Centre of Luring Voters with Bill
Image credit: PTI
Hitting out at the Modi government, former Union law minister Kapil Sibal on Sunday said the earliest the women's reservation can come into effect is 2034 Lok Sabha elections, alleging it was brought with an eye on the upcoming state and Lok Sabha polls.
The Rajya Sabha MP made the remarks in his new 'Dil Se' initiative under which he will engage fortnightly in a conversation with a journalist on important issues.
In the first episode he posted on social media, Sibal took questions on the women's reservation bill, the row over BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri's derogatory remarks against BSP MP Danish Ali, and his views on the new Parliament building.
Asked about Bidhuri's remarks, Sibal said the BJP MP must be "expelled" from parliament.
"I have not seen this in my 30-year-long career in parliament. Never seen such foul language, such venom and I was even surprised and shocked by the person presiding, who said I would look at the record and then delete it. I just don't understand this," Sibal said in an apparent reference to Congress' K Suresh who was in the chair when the incident happened in the Lok Sabha last week.
People like this should be expelled from Parliament, Sibal said, on Bidhuri.
"Imagine if a member of that (of Danish Ali's) community had done a similar thing, what would have happened and what the presiding officer would have done," Sibal said.
"That is the kind of venom we have built in the society, that people of a particular community can say anything and get away with it," said Sibal, who was the Union law minister between May 2013 and May 2014.
Asked about the women's reservation bill that was passed by the parliament last week, Sibal said he doubts government was genuine in wanting to pass the bill immediately.
"Had they been genuine in 2014, it would have been done," he said.
Asked when the bill could come into effect, Sibal said, "Not in 2029. I will tell you why. The last delimitation was done in 1976… then we had the 84th constitutional amendment which said that we will have a freeze on delimitation. Now 2026, if you start doing a census, as you know it is a huge exercise, we have over 1.4 billion people, it will take one to one and half years.
"Not only that, if you are going to include caste which is going to be the demand of a large section of north India and I don't think the BJP will be able to resist that demand because if they resist that demand, they are going to lose the election, it would take much longer," he said.
He said that delimitation was a long-drawn and enormous exercise to stress that the earliest one could have possible reservation for women was in 2034.
Asked whether the bill was brought with an eye on state and Lok Sabha polls, Sibal said, "Without a doubt. In 2023, why would they have a special session for doing this."
"The government has not answered that in parliament. The question to be asked is that the Prime Minister and the law minister should explain why they did not do it in 2014, there is no answer," he said.
"Why now, I feel there is a general fatigue that has set in as far as this government is concerned and I think they want to catch some issue that will take them to the 2024 elections, this is one of them," he said.
On whether the bill will work to the government's advantage, Sibal said, it may or may not, as he suggested the opposition to focus its campaign on questioning the Centre why it did not bring the bill when it had the chance to do it in 2014.
"The backwards within the backwards that have not been included in the bill, I think will get alienated and we will have a chasm there, they can't afford that, not to include the backwards but they can't afford to include them also because there is a backlash there as well. For them it is Hobson's choice," Sibal said.
On the new Parliament building, Sibal said, "It is fine, it is like any other seven-star structure. I would have liked a more cozy place. I would have liked a parliament where I would have felt close to my colleagues."
Sibal, who was a Union minister during UPA I and II, quit the Congress in May last year and was elected to the Rajya Sabha as an Independent member with the Samajwadi Party's support.
He has floated a non-electoral platform 'Insaaf' aimed at fighting injustice.
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