A power struggle had ensued between British women suffragettes and the elite Indian women leaders on who should lead the initiative for women's franchise and political representation of Indian women. A pitched back and forth set of protests and political manoeuvres took place between prominent leaders of Indian women's organizations and British women suffragettes, Eleanor Rathbone in particular. The question of universal franchise hinged on the qualification of having property. In the excerpt below, we get a glimpse of Dr Ambedkar examining the arguments being presented with his characteristic clarity of vision ensuring that there is no scope at all for denying voting rights to any section of Indian women.
A part of the 'Evidence before the Joint Committee on Indian Constitutional Reform' is reproduced here. The witnesses examined were Lady Layton, Mrs. O. Stracey and Sir Philip Hartog, on behalf of the British Committee for Indian Women's Franchise.
Dr. B. R. Ambedkar: I would like to ask one question. I do not know whether you agree with me, but I suppose when you press for votes for women, I think you also desire that the franchise should be so devised that the women who will be brought upon the register will be drawn from all strata of Indian society, and not necessarily drawn, either from the upper strata or the middle strata or the lower strata exclusively; that there ought to be some proportion of the women on the electoral roll to the communities from which they are drawn?
Lady Layton: As far as is practically possible, certainly.
Dr. B. R. Ambedkar: I mean, it is not your case that you want this mathematical ratio of 1 to 4 or 1 to 5, but apart from that ratio, you would also desire that all women from all sections should be on the register?
Lady Layton: Certainly, as far as possible, we do want to feel that the urban and rural voters and the different sections will be adequately represented.