Women's Reservation Bill unlikely in budget session

A Union minister, who declined to be identified, said work needed to be done on the Bill which was before the Standing Committee on Law and Justice.

The first job needed to be done is to urgently reconstitute the Committee which has been given the task of going into the Bill already introduced in the Rajya Sabha. The reconstitution is necessary as the Committee's tenure ended with the dissolution of the previous Lok Sabha.

The reconstituted Committee will have to deliberate on the issue and submit its report to Parliament to enable it to complete the process within 100 days in office of the new government, sources said.

The earlier Committee headed by senior Congress MP E M Sudarshana Natchiappan had done all necessary spadework by holding discussions with several political parties and chief ministers of seven states in a bid to reach a consensus on the issue on which few political parties had some reservation.

The Manmohan Singh government had made passage of the Bill in Parliament as one of the priority items on which it has promised to initiate action within the first 100 days.

The Committee also had discussions with chief secretaries as the Bill has to go for ratification in the assemblies after its passage in Parliament.

"Since 90 per cent of the work is complete, there is every possibility for finalising the report by the reconstituted committee at the earliest," the sources said.

Senior BJP leader Najma Heptullah, Congress leader Jayanti Natarajan and CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat, who are staunch supporters of the Bill aimed at providing 33 per cent reservation to women in Lok Sabha and state legislatures, have been members of the earlier committee.

Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley said that BJP would stand behind the government in the passage of the Bill, which has been pending for a decade, in the first 100 days of the new government.

"If this Bill is brought and passed within 100 days, the credibility of Indian politics itself will go up," he said.

The Bill has remained stalled due to resistance from some parties which are opposed to it in its present form and want quota within quota.

Samajwadi Party said though it was not opposed to reservation of seats in Parliament for women, it was against the present format of the Bill.

RJD and JD(U) are also among the parties that share such a view and JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav went to the extent of threatening to commit suicide on the floor of the House if the Bill was passed.

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