Special Correspondent

Will take up reservation issue with Government and political parties

  • AIDWA delegation meets President
  • `In the 539 seats in Parliament, there are only 48 women MPs'
  • NEW DELHI: Expressing concern over the fate of the Women's Reservation Bill, President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on Monday said he will take up the matter with the Government and various political parties to push for its passage.

    Mr. Kalam gave this assurance to a delegation of the All-India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) that met him here to seek his intervention as the constitutional head of the country in the passage of the Bill that has been hanging fire for more than 10 years now.

    "The President heard representatives from across the country and said he would do whatever possible for the passage of the Bill," said Rajya Sabha member Brinda Karat.

    In a memorandum submitted to Mr. Kalam, the delegation said: "Hundreds of thousands of women all over the country enthusiasticallywelcomed your address to Parliament in which you gave an assurance that the Government would introduce and pass the Women's Reservation Bill. Unfortunately, this assurance has not been honoured by the Government which had in its National Common Minimum Programme (NCMP) assured the country that they would pass the Bill," the memorandum said.

    The Bill must be debated in Parliament where the members can make their valuable suggestions and move amendments. The delegation, led by Ms. Karat, drew the attention of Mr. Kalam to the fact that the delay in the passage of the Bill meant that at present, in a total of 539 seats in Parliament, there were only 48 women MPs. Had the Bill been passed, there would have been 179. Since the last Lok Sabha elections of 2004, a number of States have had Assembly elections. The passage of the Bill would have increased the number of elected women dramatically.

    For example, in Kerala where there are only eight women legislators of a total of 140 MLAs, there would have been 47; in West Bengal where there are 36 women in a House of 294, there would have been 98. The 90-member Assembly in Haryana has only 11 women legislators instead of 30. The delegation comprised Subhashini Ali, Sudha Sundaraman, Pramila Pandhe, Zareen Khursheed, Anju Kar, Ashalata, Sumitra Chopra, Shakuntala, Santosh Kapoor, Rajendra Kaur Chokha, Bilasi Bala and Indu Nautial.