Cutting across party lines, women MPs in Rajya Sabha on Friday called for the passage of the long-pending Women’s Reservation Bill in the Lok Sabha, which provides 33 per cent reservation to women in Parliament and state legislatures.
The Rajya Sabha had passed the Bill in 2010.
Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu allowed a notice by women members to raise the issue of “lack of proper representation for women in Parliament”. Naidu, however, asked them to refrain from making political speeches, arguing such statements would not serve the purpose. Speaking first, Samajwadi Party’s Jaya Bachchan said contrary to “unnecessary rumours”, her party was not against the Bill.
“We are not against the reservation Bill, we are for the reservation Bill but we have certain recommendations. The Women’s Reservation Bill in its present form will only benefit the rich and urban women and not the poor and rural women. A provision of sub-reservation for OBC women and Dalit women should be added to the Bill….The right to choose and decide the candidates and their seats should remain with the party and not the Election Commission…EC cannot have a say in this…the Bill in its present form is cosmetic,” she said.
DMK’s Kanimozhi and Shanta Chhetri of the Trinamool Congress hit out at the BJP. Kanimozhi and Congress’s Viplove Thakur reminded the ruling BJP that the party’s manifesto had promised passage of the women’s reservation Bill. Kanimozhi said it is a peculiar situation as the Bill could not be passed for more than nine years despite the Right, Left and the Centre supporting it. She said it is sad that women have to bear and put up with decisions made by men throughout their lives, in every sphere and space.
“Even in Parliament and in the legislative assemblies…we make laws and amend laws and only men are making decisions for women….it is absolutely unfair.. because our voices are not heard, our viewpoints are not heard said..how can you pass a Bill without voices of women being heard,” she said.
Arguing that Trinamool Congress had given over one-third of tickets to women in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, Chhetri said the ruling BJP should not talk about women empowerment since it had only given 9 per cent tickets to women.
CPM’s Jharna Das Baidya said the BJP, despite having absolute majority in Lok Sabha and despite talking about “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao”, has not got the women’s reservation Bill passed.
Nominated member Sonal Mansingh said the rotational provision in the Bill needs more attention and detailing. She argued the provisions in the format of the Bill at present could create unnecessary animosity and tension among the main aspirants. She said women in legislatures will bring “grace, wisdom and harmony”.