Is BJP’s Opposition to Women’s Reservation Bill rooted in Patriarchy?

For the all-encompassing development of a country, gender parity is one of the significant requirements, and this should ideally be reflected in every area, be it the economy, society or politics. In the words of former head of UN Women, Michelle Bachelet, a better democracy is a democracy where women do not only have the right to vote and to elect but to be elected.

Unfortunately, Bachelet’s views are true in the context of Indian politics. Despite an increase in the participation of women as voters, this did not translate into adequate representation in the legislative processes of the country. In the political history of India, women’s reservation has been at the center of stormy debates. The proposal to make provisions for women’s’ reservation in Parliament and the state assemblies was first echoed by the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. After numerous hurdles, it was introduced by the UPA in 2008 and passed by the Rajya Sabha in 2010. Yet, the bill languishes in the Lok Sabha till date.

Realising the relevance and need of gender parity in politics, Congress President Smt. Sonia Gandhi recently wrote a letter to PM Narendra Modi, urging him to take advantage of the majority his party enjoys, and ensure its passage in the Lok Sabha. Three years have passed since Mr. Modi assumed power, yet there has been no progress in this regard. Any attempt to bring ensure that women are well-represented in the legislature has met with accusations of “political gimmickry”.

Given some of the statements made by the leaders of the BJP, one wonders if the party’s resistance to the reformative bill stems from a mindset deep-set in patriarchy. Consider some of their statements.

“Women do already have reservations in many areas. First analyse and assess the impact of this in gram sabhas, panchayats and local bodies. Assess and then decide whether women who are in active politics, and public life like men, whether in this process they may not lose their importance and role as mothers, daughter, and sisters.” — Yogi Adityanath, Chief Minister, Uttar Pradesh.

Further, the image below captures the views of Babul Supriyo, Minister of State, Department of Heavy Industry, Ministry of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises. The tweets are in the context of the recent Chandigarh stalking, and the minister can be seen attempting to normalise stalking.

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