ECI could have identified seats for women in no time
Fate of the bill will largely depend on the outcome of 2024 polls
HYDERABAD: The Election Commission of India (ECI) would have completed the process of identifying Assembly and Lok Sabha seats to be reserved for women in no time had the Narendra Modi-led Central government been keen on implementing the 33 per cent reservation for the 2024 polls.
Instead, the Centre decided to put off the much-awaited women empowerment for at least one more decade as it linked reservation with the delimitation exercise, which is expected to begin only after the next round of Census is completed. The Census, due in 2021, has not been taken up so far and will happen post 2024 general elections, most likely in 2025.
But, the fate of the present bill will largely depend on the outcome of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections and may, once again, be put in cold storage if the forces demanding OBC quota within 33 per cent women quota gain control over the administration.
“Identifying the seats for women is simple. Segments with women population can be arranged in descending order as per 2011 Census and pick the highest one-third for one term and rotate accordingly for the next two terms,” said RTI activist Inuganti Ravikumar, who was actively involved in the previous round of delimitation exercise in then combined state of Andhra Pradesh.
“Women reservation has nothing to do with delimitation because the latter is more related to geographical boundaries of the constituencies,” he said.
However, the BJP's top leadership seems to have decided to not disturb around 100 sitting party MPs, who will lose the opportunity to contest as their seats would be reserved for women. The BJP also did not take into consideration the demand for quota within quota, thereby, making it vulnerable to the criticism that the interests of the Backward Classes were ignored.
The objective behind linking the reservation to delimitation is to ensure the existing number of seats to men while accommodating women in additional seats that are expected to come into existence after delimitation. The party also sought to defend the move as it would ensure leadership stability for women.
“Under the rotation method suggested in the previous bill, seats reserved for women will change every five years and now the reservation will be for two decades. It provides greater stability,” pointed out BJP Rajya Sabha member G.V.L. Narasimha Rao.