ON September 17, a day before the five-day Special Session of the Lok Sabhabegan, VicePresident and Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar hoisted the national flag at the new building of Parliament, terming it as historic. And historic it was! The next day, the session began in the old Parliament building and then shifted to the new building on September 19. With that, the old Parliament House, which has witnessed several important moments in India’s history and its democratic journey for more than 75 years, became part of history.
The shift to a new Parliament is symbolic of a changing India. The country’s image and perception are changing, not just in the eyes of the countrymen,but also in the eyes of the world. India is today seen as a strong and self-reliant nation. There is no doubt that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Government will take decisions that will further strengthen the foundations of New India with the new temple of democracy. To begin with, on the first day of proceedings, the Government tabled the Women’s Reservation Bill, which was introduced for the first time 27 years ago on September 12, 1996, but even after many governments, it could not be passed. The Government named this Bill ‘Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam’, and it was passed in the Lok Sabha with near unanimity. Even in the Upper House, it is set to sail through.
There was lot of speculation on the agenda of the Special Session despite a formal announcement by the Government on the same. Conjectures ranged from plans for ‘One Nation, One Election’ to changing the name of the country; the Uniform Civil Code Bill; provision for women in Government jobs; and the presentation of the Rohini Commission report. No one knew anything for sure because one predictable aspect of the Modi Government has been its ability to surprise. But two points which everybody got right were the focus of the Special Session on issues related to women and 2024 elections. The Women’s Reservation Bill was tabled on the very first day of the session in the new building and a Bill to appoint a new Chief Election Commissioner was announced by the Government itself among the items on the agenda.
The focus on women is understandable as they are going to be the most important force in the next LokSabha elections.
The voting percentage of women has increased in the past two decades. In the 2019 elections, the number of female voters was 67.18 per cent, which was more than the number of male voters (67.01 per cent). The important thing is that women are emerging as decisive voters in the Assembly elections across the country. Various state Governments are,therefore,racing to launch schemes to transfer money directly to women.
Kalaignar Magalir Urimai Thogai Thittam in Tamil Nadu, Grihalakshmi Yojana in Karnataka, and Laadli Behna Yojana in Madhya Pradesh are some of the examples.
It is not surprising that the Opposition is worried that PM Modi can change the mood of the voters by passing the Women’s Reservation Bill. Thus, it can be said that recent events, including the inauguration of the new Parliament, will prepare the environment for the elections of 2024.