100 days of UPA: Women’s bill still on hold

New Delhi, Aug 29 (Inditop.com) Several MPs Saturday voiced concern that a bill for securing a third of parliamentary and state legislative assembly seats for women was a distant dream despite being on the ruling United Progressive Alliance’s 100 day agenda, the deadline for which was Friday.

In a heated discussion on the long-pending issue, young MPs Sandeep Dikshit and Anu Tandon, as well as veteran champions for the cause Najma Heptullah, Brinda Karat and Mabel Rebello debated the way forward for the bill.

Former chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on law and justice and DMK MP, E.M. Sudarshana Natchiappan, said: “We want that basic points be accepted – there be reservation and that too of one third strength. There has been ample scrutiny of the bill and after the next general elections we hope that 181 of the seats in Lok Sabha will be occupied by women.”

He said that in the Lok Sabha, where there are just around 59 women MPs at present, the main contention of male candidates was “giving up a piece of the cake to share it”.

“But if there was a provision to increase the number of seats by 33 percent to 725 then the other male MPs may relent,” he added.

According to PRS Legislative Research, a body that scrutinised the bill, issues that have propped up time and again stopping the passage of the bill into law, include reservations of OBCs and rotation of constituency to ensure that two-thirds of the MPs and legislators will not contest for re-election from the same constituency as the reserved seat.

Communist Party of India-Marxist Rajya Sabha MP Karat said: “Despite the president’s 100 day promise, there has been no forward movement. The government needs to answer for its utter failure to take the bill forward. On the other hand the union cabinet’s approval for 50 percent reservation in rural panchayats is welcome.”

The UPA which had promised that the bill would be passed within 100 days of coming to power that ended Friday, has now promised to bring it up in the winter session.

The government had reintroduced the bill in the Rajya Sabha last May to ensure that it did not lapse.

Karat also called for “stronger political will” to ensure the bill is passed.