Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday credited former prime minister P.V Narasimha Rao government for bringing 33 percent reservation at the panchayat level.

She said this 'Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam' has actually been very thoughtfully crafted considering that we are at a very critical stage of our development process. She said that it is important we build consensus and prepare for economic and social empowerment of women

Speaking in Rajya Sabha over the Bill, Sitharaman said: "I want to credit former PM P.V Narasimha Rao's government for bringing 33 percent reservation at the panchayat level. As a result, we have seen a groundswell at the panchayat level where reservation has been increased to 50 percent at several panchayats showing the contribution of women."

Nirmala Sitharaman
New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman speaks in the Rajya Sabha during a special session of the Parliament, in New Delhi, Tuesday, September 19, 2023. (Photo: IANS/Sansad Tv)IANS

She said that "there is no bill waiting." She said the bill that was passed in Rajya Sabha in 2010, also later lapsed. "There is no bill waiting. With a dissolution of the Lok Sabha, that bill that was passed in Rajya Sabha and was naturally transmitted to Lok Sabha in 2010, also lapsed," Sitharaman said.

She also said that the proposal for the women's quota bill is not being made for the first time. "Four such genuinely serious attempts have been made in past to get this bill through," she said.

She said that first attempt was made in 1996, then in 1998, then in 1999 and most recently in 2008 to pass this bill. She further said that exercise of delimitation will be done to identify the number of seats to be reserved for women in Lok Sabha and legislative assemblies.

"The reservation will cease after 15 years of being implemented," Sitharaman in said.

"As far as the implementation of the proposed reservation for women...After the Bill is enacted and after the bill comes into operation...Whenever the first census takes place and the relevant figures for that census are published, a fresh delimitation exercise shall be undertaken...," the Finance Minister said.

Lok Sabha in new Parliament building
Lok SabhaIANS

She also said that the bill was long overdue.

Defending the government, why it took nine and half years, she said: "People are questioning why it took nine years to bring this bill. We wanted to make sure that we were committed for holistic development of women. There have been several events to provide dignity, houses, and toilets to women. This reservation will provide reservation for women in Lok Sabha and state assemblies."

"In women-related matters, we (BJP) do not play any politics. It is an article of faith for the PM and therefore we do everything that we have done whether it is Article 370, triple talaq, or women's reservation bill," she said.

She further said that BJP has been consistently supportive of women reservation.

(With inputs from IANS)