Zero Hour in the Lok Sabha on Thursday saw Speaker Om Birla spontaneously deciding to allow as many women MPs as possible to raise their issues in the House. Out of a total of 62 speakers in the morning, 29 were women. Many asked to speak out of ballot and the issues ranged from when the Women’s Reservation Bill will be revived, to the Dadra and Nagar Haveli MP Kalaben Delkar reminding the House of her late husband, Mohan Delkar’s (who died by suicide in February last) efforts to get an Assembly for the Union Territory.
The ball was set rolling when DMK’s Kanimozhi raised the issue of the Women’s Reservation Bill, pointing out that it had been a long time coming and that the government should seriously explore the matter. Soon after Mr. Birla said that the 33% reservation for women issue was a serious one and asked as many women MPs as were present and willing to raise their issues in the House.
Ms. Delkar was recently elected to the House in a bypoll. Before his death, Mohan Delkar had alleged harassment by the local administration. She fought on a Shiv Sena ticket, unlike her husband who was an Independent. She reminded the House about the sacrifices made by her husband and the struggle he waged for Dadra and Nagar Haveli to get a responsive local government, a “full Assembly”.
Mr. Birla singled out BJD MP from Aska, Pramila Bisoyi, for praise as
she raised the issue of challenges to employment for women during COVID-19. Ms Bisoyi, who runs many SHGs in Ganjam district, had raised the issue of language hesitancy with the Speaker eight months ago, as she was fluent only in Odia. Mr. Birla had arranged for her to work with an Odia-to-Hindi language translator to make her interventions effective, the result of which was evident on Saturday.
Of the seven sittings of the winter session held till now, six have seen Zero Hour being held, in which a total of 402 members have been able to raise their issues.