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Sep 20 – Mallikarjun Kharge and Nirmala Sitharaman got into a heated debate about the Women’s Reservation Bill in the Rajya Sabha. The law, which seeks 33 percent reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and legislative assembly, was introduced by the Centre and later passed on September 19.
Kharge, the Rajya Sabha Leader of Opposition, said that the Women’s Reservation Bill was already passed in 2010 but was delayed. He also chastised political parties for supposedly favouring ‘weak’ female candidates rather than educated and skilled ones.
“Largely, ladies from backward and scheduled castes are not that literate. Their literacy rate is low, because of which all political parties have a habit of nominating weak women,” Kharge said.
“They (parties) won’t choose those who’re educated and can fight,” the Congress leader said. “I know how backwards and scheduled caste people are chosen by political parties,” Kharge said, sparking outrage from Treasury members who took issue with his remarks.
Kharge was speaking in the Upper House after Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal tabled the new Women’s Reservation Bill during the Lok Sabha’s first sitting at the new Parliament complex earlier today.
In response, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman stated that it was wrong to make a broad generalisation that all parties appoint incompetent women. She stressed that her party and the Prime Minister have given many women power, including Rashtrapati Droupadi Murmu.
“We respect the leader of the opposition but to make a sweeping statement that all parties choose women who are not effective is absolutely unacceptable. We all have been empowered by our party, PM. President Droupadi Murmu is an empowered woman,” she said.
Kharge defended his position by claiming that women from backward and Scheduled Tribes backgrounds are denied equal opportunity. The Rajya Sabha was slated to debate the Nari Shakti Vandana Adhiniyam Bill, which ensures 33 percent reservation for women in Parliament and Legislative Assemblies, the following day during the five-day special session.