The long pending Women’s Reservation Bill should be reintroduced in the Winter Session, several parties including Trinamool Congress, Janata Dal (U) and Shiromani Akali Dal demanded at a meeting of Lok Sabha Business Advisory Committee chaired by Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla.
The bill seeks to reserve one-third of seats in Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies for women. It was first introduced under the United Front government of former Prime Minister Deve Gowda. Similar versions of the Bill were introduced later in 1988, 1999, and 2008. In 2008, the Bill was introduced in Rajya Sabha and after going through the standing committee was passed by the Upper House in 2010 and sent to the Lok Sabha. The Bill lapsed along with the end of the 15 th Lok Sabha in 2014.
During the meeting, Trinamool floor leader Sudip Bandhopadhyay demanded that the Bill should be brought in the Winter Session of Parliament that begins on Wednesday. JD(U) national President and Lok Sabha leader Rajiv Ranjan Singh seconded the idea.
According to sources, he said that the JD(U) at one time had opposed the Bill along with the RJD and Samajwadi Party on the issue of OBC reservation. But the party, since then has revised its opinion and now feels that it should be passed at the earliest.
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Akali Dal’s Harsimrat Kaur Badal also backed the idea. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi said that the view of other parties too will have to be taken. The members of the Committee asked the government to convene an all-party meeting to build a consensus on the issue.
“Our leader Mamata Banerjee is a staunch supporter of the Bill. She is currently the only woman Chief Minister in the country. Even without the Bill, 34% of our MPs in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are women,” Mr. Bandhopadhyay told The Hindu.
Currently, there are only 15% women MPs in the 17th Lok Sabha and 12.2% women MPs in the Rajya Sabha. This is lower than the global average of 25.5%. Only 8% of the total MLAs are women across all States in India.