Cong to put 'full pressure' on govt to pass women's bill:Sonia

Last Updated 20 August 2014, 08:08 IST

Making a strong pitch for women's reservation in Parliament and state Assemblies, Congress President Sonia Gandhi today said her party will put "full pressure" on the NDA government to pass the bill on the issue as soon as possible.

Addressing a conference of Mahila Congress here, she accused the Narendra Modi government of copying the schemes and programmes of the UPA government and rued that despite doing so much, the Congress-led alliance lost in the Lok Sabha polls as people got misled by false promises.

"We had done so much but still people got misled as some persons laid a trap. Our work, our achievement got aside and those showing false dreams marched ahead," Gandhi said at the first such large gathering of party workers after the election debacle.

On the occasion of 70th birth anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi, the Congress President said empowering women was one of the two priorities which the Congress leader had pursued ever since he had become the General Secretary of the party.

He believed that no country can move forward by ignoring half of its population, she said.Listing a number of steps taken by Rajiv for women empowerment including reservation for them in panchayats and setting up of a national commission for women, the Congress chief said that the late Prime Minister also wanted that women should get representation in Parliament and Assemblies. She, however, regretted that nobody took the issue forward after Rajiv's death.

Unfortunately the bill could not get passed in Lok Sabha because of some political parties, she said, noting that the Congress-led UPA government took up the issue when it came to power in 2004 and ensured passage of the measure in Rajya Sabha.

"Today, we are in opposition but Congress will not withdraw from its commitment to women's reservation and we will build full pressure on the NDA government to pass the bill as soon as possible," she said.

The 18-year journey of the Women's Reservation Bill has been marked by high drama and roadblocks in each outing in Parliament before the historic measure cleared the first legislative hurdle in March 2010 when Rajya Sabha passed it during a sitting which saw marshals being used.

The bill seeks to reserve 33 per cent of the seats in Parliament and legislative Assemblies for women.

"All Congress-ruled states have given 50 per cent reservation to women in local bodies while no BJP-ruled state has done so", Congress spokesperson Shobha Oza had earlier claimed.

Taking a dig at the Modi government, Gandhi said that those who have come in the government today were showing a different picture to the people as per their old habits."They are implementing the same schemes brought by the UPA government," she said.

Noting that victory and defeat were part of life, she said, "The real thing is that one should stick to principles and Congress has never sacrificed its principles for power."

Asking women congress workers to raise the issues of women's exploitation in a big way and help the victims in getting justice from police stations and courts, she said that they should not leave any stone unturned to bring back "victory and glory to the party".

"Notwithstanding the fact that our struggle is for a longer period, we may have to work hard. But if all of us work unitedly, the day is not far away when Congress will regain its peak," she said.

Regretting that incidents of female foeticide, domestic violence and rape "make our head hang in shame", she said that "we have to raise our voice against such crimes".

(Published 20 August 2014, 08:08 IST)

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