Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Monday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking him to ensure the passage of the women's reservation bill in the monsoon session of Parliament, starting July 18.
In his letter to the prime minister, Gandhi offered his party's unconditional support to the bill and said the time has come for a change, and for women to take their rightful place in state legislatures and Parliament.
The Congress chief also urged Modi to ensure that the bill gets passed in this session itself so that women can participate "more meaningfully" in the state elections later this year and in the Lok Sabha polls next year.
"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? Any further delay will make it impossible to implement before the next general elections," Gandhi wrote to Modi.
He said the women's reservation bill, which was passed by the Rajya Sabha on March 9, 2010, has been stalled on one pretext or the other in the Lok Sabha, for over eight years now.
Since then, while the Congress 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, Gandhi said.
"On the issue of empowering our women, let us stand together, rise above party politics and send India a message that we believe the time for change has come. Women must take their rightful place in our state legislatures and in Parliament, where they are at present abysmally represented," he wrote to the prime minister.
"For the skeptics in your party who oppose the passage of this transformational (proposed) legislation, I would appreciate you pointing out to them that our nation's experience with governance at the Panchayat and Municipal levels, has clearly shown that women in leadership positions are more likely, than their male counterparts, to take decisions that further the cause of an inclusive and just society; which is why this bill has the potential to transform governance in India," the Congress president said.
Given that fact that the BJP and its allies have a majority in the Lok Sabha, the Congress leader said what is required for this landmark bill to become a reality is the prime minister's support.
"I am sure, it will not be withheld," he said.
In a tweet, Gandhi said, "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 (sic)."
The Congress president also claimed that his party has collected over 3.2 million signatures of Indian men and women in support of the bill and said that he was submitting the same to him while seeking the prime minister's support.