The recent unanimous passage of the ‘Women’s Reservation Bill’ during a special session of Parliament has brought both accolades and dissent. While the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is basking in the glory of this historic legislation, former Union Minister Uma Bharti has expressed her disappointment over the absence of a special quota for the Other Backward Classes (OBC). Bharti, a former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, has voiced her concerns and taken a stand against the bill, emphasizing her long-standing support for OBC reservation.
Uma Bharti Disappointment
Uma Bharti’s disappointment stems from the fact that the Women’s Reservation Bill mandates a 33 percent reservation for women in both the Lok Sabha (House of the People) and state assemblies, but it does not include a specific provision for OBC reservation. Bharti, who belongs to the OBC community herself, has highlighted her efforts to advocate for OBC reservation when the bill was initially presented in 1996.
Bharti recalled, “When Deve Gowda ji (ex-PM) presented the Women’s Reservation Bill in 1996, I proposed OBC reservation in it. That day, the Congress and our party BJP were unanimous in the House to approve it without OBC reservation and were ready to support it.”
Standing Up for OBC Quota
In a bid to amplify her voice in favor of the OBC quota, Uma Bharti organized a gathering of OBCs at her official residence in Bhopal. She issued a stern warning that if the central leadership continued to overlook her advocacy, the BJP might face disappointing results in the upcoming assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh.
Madhya Pradesh, with an OBC population of around 51 percent, presents a critical testing ground for the BJP in the forthcoming elections. Bharti clarified that her stand was not against Prime Minister Narendra Modi but rather a commitment to advocating for her people. She even hinted at the possibility of launching a mass movement in Madhya Pradesh if deemed necessary.
Some political observers have suggested that Uma Bharti’s recent actions are indicative of her efforts to regain political influence in Madhya Pradesh. She has reportedly felt sidelined on various significant occasions, leading to her disappointment. However, Bharti firmly refutes these claims, asserting that she has never lost her standing among her supporters.
As the political landscape in Madhya Pradesh evolves, Uma Bharti’s stand on the Women’s Reservation Bill and her unwavering commitment to OBC reservation highlight the complexity and diversity of voices within the BJP. The upcoming assembly elections in the state will be closely watched to gauge the impact of her advocacy on the political landscape.