Priyanka Gandhi calls for immediate implementation of Women’s Reservation Bill, says women have no time to waste

Priyanka also said the women of Tamil Nadu showed the way for emancipation and progress to the rest of India.

ByVinodh Arulappan

Published Oct 15, 2023 | 11:36 AMUpdatedOct 15, 2023 | 11:37 AM

Priyanka Gandhi calls for immediate implementation of Women’s Reservation Bill, says women have no time to waste

Demanding the immediate implementation of the Women’s Reservation Bill, AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi said on Saturday, 14 October, that women’s worth should be valued and respected as a political instrument for their empowerment.

Speaking at the Women’s Rights Conference organised by the DMK ‘s women’s wing, she sought an end to glorifying women’s tolerance of continued injustice meted out to them.

“I demand the immediate implementation of the Women’s Reservation Bill. We, the women of India, have no more time to waste. It is our right to be counted in the political process. I demand that our worth be valued and respected as a political instrument for our empowerment, she said.

“I demand that we put an end to the glorification of our tolerance of injustices committed against us day after day. I demand the rejection of any system — societal, religious or political — which thrives on our oppression and forces us to collude with it,” the Congress leader said.

Stating that Thanthai Periyar laid the foundation for the empowerment of women in Tamil Nadu, which former chief ministers C Annadurai and M Karunanidhi carried forward, Priyanka said the women of Tamil Nadu showed the way for emancipation and progress to the rest of India.

“Yet across our nation, beneath the surface of progress, we are still struggling with the harsh reality of an entrenched patriarchy that ensures the systemic oppression of women. Almost a century after Thanthai Periyar’s essays were published, the same question looms large before us: Why are women enslaved,” Priyanka asked.

Further, the Congress leader said that women have learnt to define themselves through the eyes of the hierarchy that was instilled in them, and by doing so, women have allowed and enabled their oppression.

“We have forgotten that the root of discrimination of any kind, whether it is based on colour, creed, caste or gender, is an inability to honour the truth that equality and personal dignity are neither a privilege nor a gift, but a natural endowment of life,” she said.

Also read: ‘Modi govt restricted women to traditional roles in patriarchal setup’

Bond with Tamil women

She recalled the night 32 years ago when she first set foot on Tamil Nadu, immediately after the assassination of her father at Sriperumbudur on 21 May, 1991.

“Almost 32 years ago, on the darkest night of my life, I first set foot on this land to collect my father’s shattered body,” she said in a poignant note.

“I was 19, and my mother was just a few years younger than I am today. As the door of the plane opened, the night grabbed us and drew us in, but I was not afraid of it because the worst thing I could have imagined had already happened,” she said.

“A few hours earlier, my father had been killed. I walked towards my mother that night knowing that the words I was to speak would break her heart, yet I spoke them, and I watched as the light of happiness getting extinguished from her eyes forever,” Priyanka recalled.

“We walked down the stairs of the plane onto the tarmac of Meenambakam airport terminal, shocked and alone. Then suddenly, as if sent by the embarrassed Gods who had failed us, a crowd of women dressed in blue saris surrounded us. They worked at the airport, they held my mother in their arms and cried inconsolably with her as if they were all my mothers as if they too had lost their beloved,” she spoke about the night of great loss.

“In those shared tears, a bond formed in my heart with the women of Tamil Nadu that I can neither explain nor ever erase,” she added.

Also read: ‘Women’s Reservation Bill is post-dated cheque with no clarity’

BJP deceiving women: Stalin

Taking on the Union government, Chief Minister MK Stalin said the BJP is deceiving women ahead of the Lok Sabha polls with the promise of a 33 percent reservation in Parliament and legislative assemblies.

“The BJP has drafted this legislation with an ulterior motive: to ensure that the 33 percent reservation for women does not materialise. We could have appreciated Prime Minister Modi if the law stated that women will be allocated a 33 percent reservation in the imminent parliament and Assembly elections,” he said.

“They say it will be implemented post-census and after the delimitation of constituencies. This reminds me of old films where characters say, ‘To receive what I offer, travel around seven hills or cross seven seas.’ Isn’t this akin to old fantasy stories,” he asked.

The Prime Minister claims to have granted 33 percent reservation for women by passing such a bill. However, this would only take effect around 2029 or possibly even 2034. Whatever it is, people have concluded that PM Modi’s Govt will not sustain beyond 2024,” Stalin asserted.

Also read: 3 women finish ‘archakas’ training in TN, to join temples as interns

Unite to defeat BJP

The chief minister further said that the BJP can be defeated only through unity and Tamil Nadu has shown this since the 2019 elections.

“A united alliance, like the one in Tamil Nadu, should be formed in every state across India. If the anti-BJP forces can unite and rise above their minor differences, we can surely defeat the BJP, which is against the interests of the people of India. I urge our sisters present here to relay this message to their party leaders. Defeating the BJP is the historical imperative of every democratic force in India,” Stalin opined.

Appreciating his sister and DMK Women’s Wing chief Kanimozhi MP for convening the conference in defense of women’s rights, Stalin said, “Under BJP governance, not just women’s rights, the rights of all citizens are being curtailed. Will the Parliamentary system exist? Will Democracy exist? These questions loom large,” he said.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems intent on establishing a single-party rule under the banners of one nation, one language, one religion, one culture, one election, one exam, and one food. Such a path could ultimately lead to a singular dictatorial power. This is why the BJP must be decisively defeated in the upcoming parliamentary elections,” Stalin pointed out.

Also read: TN seals another village temple that denied entry to Dalits

Women not safe under BJP rule: Kanimozhi

DMK Women’s Wing chief Kanimozhi said that even after 50 years, the Women’s Reservation Bill brought in by the Modi government will not come into force.

“They (BJP) are cheating the women of this country. They closed their eyes when the women of Manipur were humiliated and killed,” Kanimozhi said.

Stating that President Droupadi Murmu had been humiliated by Modi and the ruling BJP by not inviting her to the opening of the new Parliament House, Kanimozhi said that the President, because of her caste, was not even allowed to enter the temple.

She also said that the women wrestlers, who represented the country and won medals, are struggling to get justice and no women are safe in the country under the BJP rule.

The DMK MP also pointed out that the employment rate of women during the Congress rule was 15 percent and now, under the BJP rule, it has sunk to 7 percent.