Women’s Reservation Bill Meaningless Without Room for SC/ST/OBC Quota: SP and JMM Leaders – News18


The proposed women’s reservation bill, which guarantees 33% seats for women in Lok Sabha and state assemblies, is tipped to be introduced in the ongoing special session of Parliament. (PTI/File)

Amid the credit war between the BJP and Congress over the women’s reservation bill, at least four political parties – Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Bahujan Samajwadi Party and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha – have demanded quota within quota for SC/ST/OBC women

The much-awaited, and much-delayed, women’s reservation bill has been approved by the Union Cabinet amid rumours that the legislation to guarantee 33% seats for women in Lok Sabha and state assemblies shall be introduced in the ongoing special session of Parliament.

Amid the credit war between the ruling BJP and opposition Congress over the landmark bill, at least four political parties – Samajwadi Party (SP), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) – have demanded room for Scheduled Class (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST) and Other Backward Classes in the bill. The draft bill had not been shared with the political parties at the time of publishing this report.

Speaking to News18, JMM MP Mahua Manjhi said reservation without considering women from the backward class fails the purpose.

“Any reservation for women mostly benefits upper caste females as they are more powerful financially or are wives of influential men. Those who are left behind are women from the ST, SC and OBC communities. If there is a provision to give reservation to these women in the bill, it would be much better,” she said.

Manjhi, who has been the chairperson of Jharkhand State Commission for Women, added that while the JMM is not pitching for any particular share for SC/ST/OBC women, it wants women from these communities to be counted separately for “empowerment in the true sense”.

She cited the example of a 2017 scheme launched by the Raghubar Das-led BJP government in Jharkhand that allowed women to register a property with just Re 1. Manjhi alleged that while the scheme was meant for women from disadvantaged communities and poor families, upper class women with money ended up being the real beneficiaries.

“The aim was to benefit women at the grassroots level, but that never happened because they don’t have money and resources. Similarly, what is the point of having a reservation bill if it is not serving the women from backward communities? Those with more money will take away the benefit and those at the grassroots will not get any benefit,” she told News18.

The JMM leader said the party belongs to a tribal state and its main goal is to bring tribals to the front.

“Reservation is for those who were left behind. Women from educated and well-to-do families are already ahead. If reservation is not given, those who are left behind, will always stay behind. That is why we feel it (SC/ST/OBC reservation) should be there and I stand by this as a woman MP and as a women leader,” she added.

SP’s Juhie Singh echoed Manjhi’s sentiments, saying any reservation is meaningless if Dalits and those from backward communities are not included.

“Any empowerment should first include Dalits and those from backward communities. From the very beginning, Netaji (SP founder late Mulayam Singh Yadav) believed that if the reservation is not talking about women from the backward caste and class, they will not get any chance to reach Parliament,” she told News18.

Singh added that the Samajwadi Party would first see the draft of the bill when received and decide further action thereon. “Our stand has always been that the women from Dalit, minorities and backward class should get space and reservation. It will help women across castes come forward,” Singh added.

The SP leader added that women already have fewer chances in politics and even that share is grabbed by women from a particular section. “Hand-holding is for those who need help. We should ensure that there is sufficient space for our women to come forward and take the centrestage. When the Constitution talked about reservation and when reservation was given to women in local bodies, the idea was to bring them ahead. SP stands with the idea of reservation for SC, ST and OBC communities in the women’s reservation bill,” she added.

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