THE passage of the ‘Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam’ -- Women’s Empowerment Bill -- by an overwhelming majority -- 454 against 2 -- is a historic achievement for the country. The legislation that was lingering for decades got passed in just one single day in the Lok Sabha -- which also should be treated as a record first of its kind. Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi’s own words appear to have come true -- that he was destined to be the man who would push the legislation through. Brought in at a crucial point in time just a few months ahead of the next Lok Sabha elections in the summer of 2024, the ‘Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam’ caught everybody unawares in a way. It created a fait accompli of sorts before all the political parties that could not say ‘no’ to such a legislation. Yet, the fact that the whole parliamentary procedural exercise was gone through in just one single day, did come as a welcome surprise for the country’s teeming millions. What a great demonstration of parliamentary solidarity despite terrible cleavaging of ideologies!
There is no doubt that with this moment, the country’s democratic system became far more refined in a flash. Every member of the Lok Sabha, every official connected with its secretarial operations, every strategist of all political parties needs a pat on the back for this wonderful moment.
And because this moment was made possible by the dynamic Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi’s astute leadership of the parliamentary process, the biggest share of credit must go to him -- as well as to the band of his close associates. The Prime Minister and his team planned every move very meticulously and made sure that the country’s political community was presented with an impeccable argument in favour of the unanimous passage of the legislation. There were speeches and speeches from both sides of the divide, all right. But, in the end, the Lok Sabha membership pushed the legislation through to passage. From now on, women will have the right to have as much as 33% representation in the Parliament and in State legislatures -- to everybody’s fullest satisfaction.
Of course, the legislation had had a chequered history dotted by political vested interests.
On many occasions, the Government of the day chose to sleep over the Bill because it felt scared of losing its allies in power. Because the country had not seen for decades on end a Government with authentic majority of its own, the people heading the power structure were more concerned about keeping the allies in good humour rather than passing a Bill that could prove controversial and politically inconvenient.
With Prime Minister Mr. Modi, that was not the case. Powered by a huge majority of their own, the Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies in the National Democratic Alliance did not have to harbour doubts about the political aspect that usually bogged down any alliance. That actually paved the way to the passage of the Bill immediately. There is little doubt that the new law will bring about a paradigm shift in national politics with women having got appropriate representation legally and constitutionally in legislative institutions. This needs to be treated as one more ‘India Moment’.