‘Reservation not a favour we’ll do for women’

Actor Prakash Raj and Congress leader Rizwan Arshad, who are contesting from the Bangalore Central Lok Sabha seat, briefly locked horns on Monday on the issue of women’s reservation.

Raj, an Independent candidate, shared the stage with Arshad at the “Citizens Meet Candidates” discussion organised by pro-governance group B.PAC, powered by Deccan Herald and Prajavani. 

To a question on the women’s reservation bill whose passage is pending for two decades, Arshad said: “Congress is the only party that can make this happen. It was the Congress that got the bill passed in Rajya Sabha and it is pending in the Lok Sabha. We’re committed to getting it passed. It was the Congress that introduced reservation for women in panchayat raj institutions and local bodies.”

On his part, Raj curtly dismissed the approach political parties had toward women’s reservation. “These men, these governments and these politicians and society...equal opportunity to women isn’t a favour you are doing to them,” he said.

Arshad interrupted, taking exception to Raj’s blanket use of the word ‘politicians.’ “You become a politician when you want to and an actor when it suits you.”

Raj clarified that his comment was not directed against Arshad. “As a society, we are not doing any favour to women. We should realise that by giving them the opportunity, they are empowering us. That attitude isn’t there,” he said.

BJP’s incumbent Bangalore Central MP PC Mohan did not participate in the discussion.

“The fact that Mohan is asking for votes in Modi’s name is testimony that he has failed. If I get a chance to represent Bangalore Central, I don’t want to be a conventional MP. I want to be the most vocal voice for Bengaluru. I’m the only candidate talking about the city’s issues,” said Arshad, who lost to Mohan in the 2014 polls.

Raj asserted that he was against the present electoral system that was driven by political parties. “I chose to be an Independent because I want to be elected for what I stand for, not for something decided by a political party,” he said, adding that politics would be his way of life for the next 15 years “regardless of win or loss.”

The multi-lingual actor also said political parties resorted to money power to buy votes in order to win elections.

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‘Reservation not a favour we’ll do for women’

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