(Bloomberg) -- The Indian parliament approved a bill to reserve a third of lawmakers’ seat for women, potentially giving a boost to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party before elections due next summer.

The legislation was approved by the upper house of parliament on Thursday after being passed by the lower house on Wednesday. The passage of the bill followed two days of debate, but it eventually received widespread support across party lines. 

Still, opposition ministers expressed their disappointment with one of the clauses, which would mean the bill bill can be enforced only after the country conducts a fresh census and reshapes its political constituencies, a process that has been frozen until 2026.

Mausam Noor, a member of the upper house and the All India Trinamool Congress party, said the clause was like writing a check with no balance in your account.

India had a female prime minister for more than a decade and its current president is the second woman to hold that office. But representation in parliament, at 15%, is the lowest in the Group of 20 economies. 

Since coming to power in 2014, Modi has positioned himself as a champion of women, subsidizing cooking gas and making instant divorce by Muslim men illegal. The latest effort to reach out to female voters may help him counter opposition parties who have formed an alliance to fight against him in elections in 2024. 

The bill is a historic legislation which will boost women empowerment and enable greater participation of women in our political process, Modi said on X, formerly known as Twitter on Wednesday.

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