BJP to support women’s bill if tabled in parliament

February 21st, 2008 - 7:32 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, Feb 21 (IANS) The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Thursday vowed to support the Women’s Reservation Bill, in any form, if presented in parliament during the budget session by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. “We will support a Women’s Reservation Bill in any form if the Congress-led UPA government presents it in the coming budget session of parliament,” senior BJP leader L.K. Advani said here while addressing a BJP women’s cell rally.

“I ask Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) to announce the bill in the presidential address and then present the bill,” Advani said.

The party had gathered women workers from all parts of the country, including Andaman and Nicobar Islands and southern states, for the rally called to protest the UPA government’s failure to present the women’s bill in the last 11 sessions of the 14th Lok Sabha.

Advani said Indian women did not have to fight for the right to franchise unlike in Britain where this right was given only in 1928 after fierce agitations. Still the other political parties in the country were not favouring women’s reservation.

“The Common Minimum Programme (CMP) of the UPA has nothing on women - their education, health, etc - except the women’s reservation bill and yet they have not presented it,” Advani said.

The BJP had passed a unanimous resolution at its national executive meet last month to give 33 percent reservation to women in its party posts.

The proposed legislation that guarantees 33 percent seats in parliament and state legislatures for women was drafted first by the H.D. Deve Gowda-led United Front government. The bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha Sep 12, 1996. Though it has been introduced in parliament several times since then, the bill could not be passed because of lack of political consensus.

The legislation has been scuttled due to objections of various political parties, particularly the Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).

Former BJP president Venkaiah Naidu in his said in his address at the rally: “If you have the will, bring the bill. We will support it even if (RJD chief) Lalu Prasad and (Samajwadi Party president) Mulayam Singh Yadav oppose it.”

Sushma Swaraj, the BJP leader who is heading the BJP movement for women’s reservation, said the bill has been pending for the last 12 years due to disagreements. The bill was first presented in 1996.

BJP leaders said reserving parliamentary seats for women of India was possible in the next Lok Sabha elections - due in May 2009 - only if the bill was passed in the coming budget session of parliament, which begins Feb 25.

“When seats were reserved for women in panchayats and nagarpalikas (municipal corporations) through the 74th and 75th amendments, people said how would you get so many (competent) women to fill these posts. Today women are doing better than men in many nagarpalikas,” party president Rajnath Singh said, while reiterating the demand for the bill.

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