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Speaker’s bid fails to break logjam over Women’s Reservation Bill

Posted by on June 23, 2011 0 Comment

A meeting convened by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar here on Wednesday failed to break the deadlock over the Women’s Reservation Bill.

The Bill to set aside 33 per cent of the seats in Parliament and State legislatures for women was passed by the Rajya Sabha in March last year, but has been held up in the Lok Sabha amid stiff opposition from a few parties which are against its passage in the present form.

Ms. Kumar told journalists after the meeting that she would make yet another attempt at evolving consensus before the monsoon session of Parliament begins on August 1.

This is the first such initiative made by the Speaker. “Mrs. Kumar had convened the meeting more in her capacity as a woman parliamentarian than as Lok Sabha Speaker. She wanted to hear the views of the representatives of all parties in the Lower House in a bid to break the logjam,” said an official in the Speaker’s office.

That no major headway could be expected was evident when the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, vociferous opponents of the Bill, chose to stay away from the meeting.

Representatives of the BJP, the Left parties, the AIADMK, the DMK, the Siromani Akali Dal and the Trinamool Congress took part in the deliberations. While all the parties favoured passage of the Bill, they had serious differences over how reservation for women in elected bodies could be ensured.

The Shiv Sena wants to make it mandatory for the political parties to give a certain per cent of ticket to women to contest elections, rather than bringing about a constitutional provision for quota.

The Lalu Prasad-led Rashtriya Janata Dal has no issue with reservation for women as such, but wants a quota within the quota for the Other Backward Classes. It is advocating an OBC quota of 27 per cent, which has come into force after the Mandal Commission report was implemented.

The BJP, which voted for the Bill in the Rajya Sabha, does not want a repeat of what happened in the House. Marshals had to be summoned to evict members of the parties opposed to the Bill. Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj asked the Speaker to evolve consensus before the Bill was tabled in the House to prevent the acrimonious scenes witnessed in the Rajya Sabha.

“Members who disagree should be given a chance to put their views across and allowed to press for amendments and even walk out,” she said. Hindu

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