It seems that the political stunt by Rahul Gandhi writing a letter to Prime Minister Modi, urging him to get the Women’s Reservation Bill passed by the Parliament has badly backfired. The letter had been written in order to send across the message that the Congress is ready to get the bill passed but the government is not serious about it. The letter went on to state that “while the Congress party has been unwavering in its commitment to the bill, the BJP appears to have had second thoughts, even though this was one of its key promises in its 2014 manifesto”. It also offered unconditional support by the Congress to this bill and urged Prime Minister Modi to get it passed by his thumping majority in the Lok Sabha. While the Congress has been silent on this issue for quite some time, perhaps it suddenly started thinking of empowering women by the reservation bill as the elections are around the corner. This letter was an attempt to put the government in a fix and to show that while the Congress is ready to get the bill passed it is the Modi government which is not serious about it.
Our PM says he’s a crusader for women’s empowerment? Time for him to rise above party politics, walk-his-talk & have the Women’s Reservation Bill passed by Parliament. The Congress offers him its unconditional support.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) July 16, 2018
Minister of Law and Justice, Ravi Shankar Prasad has replied to Rahul Gandhi’s letter dated July 16, 2018. Since, the Law ministry deals with the subject matter of Constitution amendment, Rahul Gandhi’s letter was forwarded to Ravi Shankar Prasad. In his reply, Ravi Shankar Prasad has not only come down heavily on Rahul Gandhi for his misleading letter to the Prime Minister but has also put the Congress in a very tight spot. At the outset, Prasad made it clear that the bill was originally proposed by the NDA government only under the leadership of the then prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee. But it could not be passed due to want of consensus. He further stated that when the UPA introduced the bill before the Rajya Sabha, it was passed with the support of BJP and NDA. However, for reasons best known to the Congress no effort was made by the UPA government to get it passed in the Lok Sabha. This squarely exposes Rahul Gandhi who claimed that the Congress is “unwavering in its commitment to the bill”.
Prasad welcomed the initiative by the Congress of supporting the government in passing the bill but asked the Congress to clarify why it did nothing for 3 years when in power and allowed the bill to lapse. He also asked a pressing question as to whether the Congress allies which have been coordinating with it will also support the bill and not disrupt the Parliament in order to bring its functioning to a halt.
In the concluding para of the letter, Prasad has given massive shock to the Congress. Given the kind of deep concern shown by the Congress President for passing women’s reservation bill to the Parliament and state legislatures, he proposed a ‘new deal’ for the Congress whereby both the national parties-the BJP and Congress will not only get the reservation bill passed but also the bill prohibiting Triple Talaq and imposing penal consequence on those who violate the law, and the law prohibiting Nikah Halala. Prasad further stressed on how we have already been very late in conferring dignity and equal rights upon Muslim women and now this matter must be settled.
Law Minister Shri @rsprasad slams Rahul Gandhi’s double standards on women’s right and Congress party’s position on regressive practice of Triple Talaq and Nikah Halala. #RahulSlammed pic.twitter.com/qdoBBHQA13
— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) July 17, 2018
Now, the Congress must be in a very tight spot. If it rejects the counter-offer made by Prasad, then it will come out as a misogynist party. At the same time, it cannot afford to accept this ‘new deal’ for the fear of losing its Muslim vote. Therefore, Rahul Gandhi’s misadventure of writing a politically motivated letter to Prime Minister Modi has badly backfired.