Just days after Congress president Rahul Gandhi pleaded to the government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to pass Women's Reservation Bill in parliament, the party's own reconstituted working committee - its highest decision making body -- of 51 members has only seven women.
On July 17, Gandhi expanded the party's top policy-making body -- Congress Working Committee (CWC)-- to 51 members. However, only three women (Sonia Gandhi, Ambika Soni and Kumari Selja) found place in the main body of committee.
The main Congress Working Committee has 23 members, with 18 more as permanent invitees and 10 special invitees taking the total number to 51.
Gandhi, Soni and Selja are part of the 23-member main body while Sheila Dikshit, Asha Kumari, Rajni Patil and Sushmita Dev are among the permanent and special invitees. While Kumari and Patil are AICC in-charges, Dev is president of Mahila Congress. They are in the CWC by virtue of their posts,
Indian Express said.
The representation of women in the main body of CWC now stands at nearly 13 percent while the percentage of women in the full body of 51-members is slightly higher, at 13.72 percent.
Analysts say that Gandhi did away with his mother's and former Congress president Sonia Gandhi's cautious approach and opted for a blend of new and old, as per above quoted Indian Express report. However, just two days after Congress president asked Centre to pass Women's Reservation Bill, guaranteeing a third seats to women in all constituencies, in the Monsoon Session of the parliament, only seven women have found a place in the committee.
Moreover, states like Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Telangana, West Bengal and Goa find no representation in the body while only three Muslim leaders (Ghulam Nabi Azad, Tariq Hameed Karra and Ahmed Patel) and four Dalits found place on the CWC. They are: Mallikarjun Kharge, Selja, Mukul Wasnik and P L Punia.
Rahul Gandhi’s confidants Avinash Pande and KC Venugopal found a place in the CWC.On July 16, Gandhi wrote a letter to PM Modi stating, "Mr Prime Minister, in many of your public rallies you have spoken about your passion for empowering women and involving them more meaningfully in public life. What better way to demonstrate your commitment to the cause of women than by offering your unconditional support to the passage of the Women's Reservation Bill? And what better time, than the upcoming session of parliament?" He also posted on social media website Twitter, "Time for (PM Modi) to rise above party politics, walk-his-talk and have the Women's Reservation Bill passed by parliament. The Congress offers him its unconditional support."
The bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha in 2010 but was allowed to lapse in 2014 as the Lok Sabha failed to take up the bill. The latest version of the bill says for the Lok Sabha, a third of all constituencies will be reserved for women on a rotation basis, NDTV reported.
On July 17, union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad responded to Gandhi's letter to the PM. He said, "The Government welcomes your initiative to support the Bill. However, the Government would like to understand fully the reasons why the Bill was not taken up for three years by the UPA Government in the Lok Sabha and allowed to lapse."Full list of 23-member main body of the CWC: Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, Motilal Vora, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge, AK Antony, Ahmed Patel, Ambika Soni, Oommen Chandy, Tarun Gogoi, Siddaramaiah, Anand Sharma, Harish Rawat, Kumari Selja, Mukul Wasnik, Avinash Pande, K C Venugopal, Dipak Babaria, Tamradhwaj Sahu, Raghuveer Meena, Gaikhangam and Ashok Gehlot.