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Women's Bill will be tabled after Cabinet clearance: Arjun Singh

Government building consensus among political parties

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: : The process of placing the Women's Reservation Bill before the Cabinet has begun, Union Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh said told reporters here on Friday.

Once it was cleared by the Cabinet, the Bill would be tabled in Parliament.

Mr. Singh was hopeful that the Bill, providing 33 per cent reservation for women in the State Assemblies and Parliament, would be passed in the current session.

The Government was at a consensus-building exercise, proposing an increase in the number of Lok Sabha seats and a "consequent increase" in Assembly strength to reserve one-third of the seats for women.

Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad have held separate meetings with all political parties.

The Bharatiya Janata Party is agreeable to any proposal on which there is consensus. But it will oppose any quota within quota. The Left expressed some reservations and wanted the Bill in its original form. The CPI is "open" to suggestions. The Rashtriya Janata Dal sticks to its stand on "reservation within reservation."

A national-level meet of women's groups on `Women's Role in Nation Building — from panchayat to Parliament" to be held here on Tuesday will focus on the quota Bill. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will inaugurate the meeting being organised by the Central Social Welfare Board under the HRD Ministry. United Progressive Alliance Cairperson Sonia Gandhi will deliver the valedictory address.

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