Congress president Sonia Gandhi has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting him to make use of the NDA’s majority in the Lok Sabha to pass the long-pending women’s reservation bill.

She wrote, “I am writing to request you to take advantage of your majority in the Lok Sabha to now get the Women’s Reservation Bill passed in the Lower House as well,” Gandhi wrote in the letter, which coincided with reports that the Modi government was mulling the option of pushing the women’s reservation bill. “The Congress party has always and will continue to support this legislation which will be a significant step forward in the empowerment of women.”

The Women’s Reservation Bill was cleared by the Rajya Sabha or Upper House in 2010 when Mrs Gandhi’s party, the Congress, led a national coalition. “Since then it has languished in the Lok Sabha for one reason or another,” Mrs Gandhi says in her letter, vowing that the Congress “has always and will continue to support the legislation”.

In her letter, Gandhi also recalled that the Congress and its late leader Rajiv Gandhi had first mooted the provision for quotas for women in panchayats and municipal bodies through Constitutional amendment bills.

Gandhi said the bills were “thwarted” by the opposition in 1989, but were passed by both the Houses of Parliament in 1993. Dev, who read the letter out to reporters at the briefing, said, “The question we ask Modiji after three years of the BJP coming to power) is…Why the delay?”

BJP spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao said, “Rather than writing to the Prime Minister, Sonia Gandhi ought to have written or spoken to her alliance partners like Lalu Prasad and Mulayam Singh Yadav to find out why did they block the Women’s Reservation Bill when the UPA was in power.”

Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad and the then Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav had fiercely opposed the bill when the UPA government introduced it in Parliament in 2010. Both the RJD and SP were then supporting the Congress-led government.

(With inputs from various agencies.)

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