Rama Krishna Sangem
The much talked about Women’s Reservation Bill will come into effect only after delimitation of constituencies for Lok Sabha and assemblies – not before 2027. Initial indications were that the women’s quota will come into effect as soon as the President gives her assent to the Bill.
But, now that the Bill – 128th Constitution amendment Bill -2023- is introduced in the new building of Parliament on September 19, Tuesday, more details are available.
Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi is believed to have told his cabinet colleagues that the Bill will come into force from 2027 or 29 Lok Sabha elections, but not immediately. Earlier we thought that this Bill will come into force for all polls that happen after its passage, but now the rider that it will be implemented only after Delimitation of constituencies happens. This delimitation is for all seats – the number of LS seats will go up from 542 to 800 plus.
So is the case with all assemblies – Telangana assembly seats will go up from 119 to 150 and those of AP will be increased from 175 to 225. Then, there will be massive changes in the reserved seats for SC/STs too. So, the women’s quota will be taken up after this process is over. Here, census is crucial for the delimitation commission to decide the increase in seats. SC/ST seats will be decided based on the census.
That means, two things will have to happen – first the Census enumeration, which is due for 2020, and second is a proper Delimitation for all Lok Sabha and assembly constituencies. This is a long process, and might take more than two years. So, Women quota of 33 per cent will be a reality for 2029 polls. The coming elections to all assemblies and LS will be held as it is. There may not be delay in polls to Telangana & 4 state assemblies later this year.
When is the Census?
Even for Delimitation, for fresh census -enumeration of population – is a must. But, Census will happen only after a separate Bill is brought in and a mechanism is put in place. That will happen only from 2024. The process may take a couple of years, before a final data is available. That data will form basis for delimitation of the constituencies – for increasing the Number of seats to deciding SC/ST and women reservations.
Suspense & Confusion over the Bill
The way PM Modi handled the entire issue is ridden with suspense and confusion. Things remained too sketchy and vague till the last minute, when the 128th Constitution Amendment Bill was tabled in the new building of Parliament on Tuesday afternoon. As a result, the media has to depend on speculations or leaks – from BJP sources, who too don’t know the details of the Bill. Many senior BJP MPs don’t know what’s going on.
Some said, the additional seats will be double MP seats – like what we used to have for SC/STs in the early decades after Independence. Some said, they are regular seats and there won’ be any extra MPs. There’s some confusion over the rotation for three terms too. More details are expected only in the next two days when the Bill is passed by Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha by September 22, Friday.