Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said he was eager to see the Women’s Reservation Bill passed in Parliament. However, he told a delegation of national women’s organisations, the House “should be allowed to function for any legislative business to take place,” according to Sudha Sundararaman of the All-India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA).
The long-pending Bill, which seeks to provide 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament and the State Assemblies has been listed on the Lok Sabha agenda for the ongoing session. It has already been passed by the Rajya Sabha. The women’s organisations feel this is a golden opportunity to remedy the injustice meted out to women.
The Bill was first introduced on September 12, 1996. Though it had been introduced in Parliament several times since then, the Bill could not be passed due to a so-called lack of political consensus. “But the resistance goes deeper,” as the experience of passage the Bill in the Rajya Sabha on March 9, 2010 demonstrated, “amidst noise and unseemly acrimony, as members opposed to it tried to disrupt the proceedings in the most shameful manner,” Ms. Sundararaman told reporters after the meeting with the Prime Minister here.
“There is stiff resistance to women’s entry into the seats of power from the patriarchal forces in society. Notwithstanding assurances in manifestos of parties, the Bill has been held up citing ‘lack of consensus’. [But] many Bills were passed, overlooking objections,” the delegation pointed out in a memorandum.