Karnataka women seek 50 percent quota in local bodies

In a memorandum to Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa Sunday, a joint organisation of the members said the state government should reserve 50 percent of the total seats for women in the local bodies' elections due March 2010.

"We want Karnataka to have 50 percent of the seats for women in the three tiers of the panchayati raj institutions as was done in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Bihar," the memorandum said.

About 5,000 of the elected women members formed a federation - Sugrama - in 87 blocks in 21 of the 30 districts across the state in May 2009. Other members are represented by the Association of Local Governance of India (ALGI) and the federation of elected women in gram panchayat - stree suchana sangama (SSS).

The memo also referred to the address by President Pratibha Patil in parliament June 4, 2009, in which she said the government would initiate steps for constitutional amendment to provide 50 percent reservation for women in local councils and urban local bodies.

"Though 8-10 members end up holding the president's post, the provision leads to corruption and often violence against the elected women representatives," said Reshma of the Hunger Project, representing the local body organisations.

To eliminate graft and favouritism or nepotism, the members have asked the state government to rescind the draconian provision and make the terms of president five years as in the case of elected representatives across the country in state legislatures and parliament.

The members have also sought reservation to be extended to two terms in place of a single five-year term to enable the women members learn the ropes of the multi-layered system.

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