'Assembly poll results will not affect UPA stability'

Expressing dismay over the abysmally low level of women’s representation in the just concluded polls in five state Assemblies including UP, Jayanthi Natarajan, senior Congress leader from Tamil Nadu and Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests (Independent Charge), on Thursday ruled out a mid-term Lok Sabha poll and asserted that the UPA government at the Centre “will last its full term”.

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“Victories and defeats are common in a democracy, and the results of the five Assembly elections will not affect the Central government’s stability in any way,” said Natarajan emphasizing how Congress had a near 125-year-old heritage in shaping a composite and modern India.

“People will again return to the Congress”, said Natarajan, participating in a function to mark the International Women’s Day at the TNCC headquarters at Satyamurthy Bhavan here.

The senior Congress leader said while Congress had won in two of the five states which went to the polls, in UP  too “we have performed well, though it could have been better.” She hoped that the new parties elected to power will “focus on governance” in their respective states and not on destabilising the Central government as “such wishes will not come true”.

On Congress’ relationship with its allies, particularly the DMK and Trinamool Congress which are key partners of the UPA at the Centre, in the wake of the poll reverses, Natarajan said she saw no problem as “we have a very good relationship with all our allies”.

The Congress president Sonia Gandhi had also reiterated that the party “will continue to engage with our allies,” the minister underscored, to drive home that any hitch with allies like the DMK would be sorted out.

However, Natarajan sounded anguished at the dismally low women’s representation in the results of the five Assembly elections. Of the total of 690 Assembly seats that went to the polls in the five states, women won only in 55 seats, which was just about 8 per cent, she regretted.

Calling for greater representation of women in the State Legislative Assemblies and in politics at large, Natarajan said despite high literacy rates in states like Punjab and UP, the number of women who have been elected from their respective Assemblies, is very low. “Not a single woman has been elected to the Goa Assembly, while in Manipur only 3 women have made it to the Assembly there,” she pointed out.

Referring to the Women’s Reservation Bill, providing 33 per cent quota for women in Parliament and all the state Assemblies in the country, she said though it had been passed by the Rajya Sabha, the Legislation could not be passed in the Lok Sabha. The Bill was expected to be passed in the coming Budget session. 

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