The Modi government politically empowers women by enacting a historic legislation to reserve a third of the seats in the central and state legislatures. The challenge lies in implementation
The Lok Sabha chamber in the new Parliament building
In 1925, delivering a speech at a women’s conference in Gujarat’s Sojitra village, Mahatma Gandhi had said: “As long as the women of India do not take part in public life, there can be no salvation for the country.” Nearly a century later, the Narendra Modi government has sought to institutionalise women’s participation in public life at the highest level by introducing the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam (Salutation to Women Power Bill), which will reserve a third of the seats in the Lok Sabha and the state assemblies for women. With five states going to the polls this year and the general election coming up next year, the bill has been timed to directly appeal to women voters, who have been the backbone of the BJP’s electoral success in the past decade. True to his style, the PM caught the Opposition parties off-guard, forcing them to become grudging cheerleaders even as the BJP goes to town cornering credit for a legislation that aims to be a game-changer in electoral politics.