The demand for passage of Women’s Reservation Bill reverberated in the Rajya Sabha on Friday, as women MPs cutting across party lines urged the government to take steps to clear the proposed legislation.
Some of the women MPs who spoke in the House also reminded the BJP-led government that it has the majority in the Lok Sabha where the Bill is stuck for the past nine years after it was passed in Rajya Sabha.
The women MPs had attempted to discuss the issue on Thursday but Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu did not allow it as there was no consensus to take up the issue then.
However, on Friday, Naidu allowed them to raise the issue though he refused to admit a notice to suspend the business of the House and discuss the matter.
Just before the discussion was to start, AIADMK and DMK MPs walked out in protest against the Centre’s decision not to intervene in Cauvery issue while CPI(M) and CPI MPs left the House in protest against not allowing them to raise the violence by RSS-BJP in Kerala following the entry of women in Sabarimala temple. Later their MPs participated in the discussion.
Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachchan was the first speaker who said her party was in full support for the Bill but with a quota within quota for Dalits, OBCs and minorities. “There is an unnecessary confusion about our stand. I am making it clear that our party is for the Bill. But in its present form, the bill will only benefit the rich and the urban women,” she said.
CPI(M)’s Jharna Das Baidya and Congress’ Viplava Thakore reminded the government that the BJP has the majority in the Lok Sabha and they should take steps to pass the provision for 33% seats for women in Parliament and Assemblies.
“We have just 12.2% women in Raya Sabha while it is 11.5% in Lok Sabha…this is why we need women’s reservation,” Baidya said. “There is a need to bring more women in lawmaking bodies,” Thakore said.
DMK’s Kanimozhi said the Women’s Bill is a peculiar bill which is supported by “the Left, the Right and the Centre” but it is still stuck. “It is really sad that women viewpoints are not heard while making laws,” she said.
While supporting the passage of the bill, AIADMK’s Vijila Sathyanath demanded Bharat Ratna for late Jayalalithaa describing her as the “greatest women leader of the century”.
Nominated MP Sonal Mansingh, however, cautioned that certain provisions in the Bill could create “animosity” among male leaders and specifically pointed out that there need to be more clarity and detailing on seats being rotated.
BJP’s Sampatiya Uikey said her party has given enough representation for women while fighting elections. “BJP walk the talk while you just talk,” she said. Trinamool Congress’ Shanta Chetri and TDP’s Thotta Seetharama Lakshmi also participated in the discussions.