Chief Minister and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) president M. Karunanidhi on Saturday came out strongly in support of the Women's Reservation Bill.
“It would be appropriate to ensure 33 per cent reservation for women in legislature initially and go for quota [for backward and most backward classes] within the quota gradually,” Mr. Karunanidhi said in a statement.
Recalling the history of the legislation, the Chief Minister said that though it was introduced on several occasions (September 1996, June 1998, November 1999 and May 2008 besides in 2002 and 2003), the Bill could not be adopted due to opposition.
He pointed out that in Tamil Nadu, when elections to local bodies were held after the DMK returned to power in 1996, one-third of seats in the urban and rural local bodies was earmarked for women, ensuring election of 44,143 persons.
Calling upon rights organisations to support the present move, he said the proposed reservation for women should be implemented without disturbing the scheme of reservation for Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes.
The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), which has been supporting the Bill, will also endorse the move. In June 2008, party general secretary Jayalalithaa, in a statement, called for immediate passage of the legislation.
“We have been saying that we will support the Bill. Our leader (Ms. Jayalalithaa) is the first political leader to implement 33 per cent reservation for women in the party organisation,” V. Maitrayen, party leader at Rajya Sabha told The Hindu.
The AIADMK has seven members in the Rajya Sabha and nine members in the Lok Sabha.
Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) leader S. Ramadoss said he was disappointed because there was no provision in the Bill to provide reservation for BC and MBC women. “It is against social justice and it will be the opinion of majority of the MPs,” he added.
Describing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as an organisation representing the interests of the upper classes, Dr. Ramadoss said the Congress had followed the BJP and issued whip to its MPs.
Either the MPs should be allowed to vote according to their conscience or the government should evolve a consensus on the Bill.
He called upon the MPs from the State to come together and demand quota within quota for women.