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India passes landmark legislation that will reserve seats for women in Parliament after nearly three decades of impasse

INDIA’S Parliament has approved landmark legislation that reserves one-third of the seats in its powerful lower house and in state legislatures for women.

The decision ends a 27-year impasse over the Bill, but the new law will not apply until the 2029 national elections and after India redraws the boundaries of constituencies.

The Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament, approved the legislation on Wednesday with a 454-2 vote.

And the upper house, the Rajya Sabha, passed it unanimously late on Thursday.

India’s once-a-decade census was to be held in 2021 but was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Under the legislation, the reservation of seats for women would continue for 15 years and could be extended by Parliament.

Only women will be allowed to contest 33 per cent of the seats in the elected lower house of Parliament and in state legislatures.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the government wants more women to join the country’s development process.

All opposition parties supported the Bill but said the delay in its implementation is an injustice to women.

They demanded it apply to the next national elections, which are due to be held before May 2024.

Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi, of the Congress party, said that the new legislation could be implemented immediately and accused the government of adopting a diversionary tactic.

“This is not a complicated issue,” he said.

Dola Sen of the opposition All-India Trinamool Congress Party questioned whether the government was serious about implementing the law by delaying it until 2029.

Women comprise over 48 per cent of India’s population of about 1.4 billion but have just 15.1 per cent representation in Parliament, compared to the international average of 24 per cent.


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