Somnath expresses regret over pending women’s quota bill

February 26th, 2009 - 7:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Somnath ChatterjeeNew Delhi, Feb 26 (IANS) Speaker Somnath Chatterjee Thursday expressed regret that the women’s reservation bill could not be passed during his tenure as the presiding officer of the 14th Lok Sabha.
“Personally, it is a matter of great regret that we have not been able to pass the women’s reservation bill during my tenure,” Chatterjee said at the last session of the present Lok Sabha.

“This would have ensured genuine and effective empowerment of 50 percent of the population,” he said while making the concluding remarks before adjourning the house.

He said the Lok Sabha passed as many as 258 legislations, including the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, Right to Information Act, National Investigation Agency Act, Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act and the Disaster Management Act.

Chatterjee, who has announced that he will not contest the next elections, said rather emotionally: “I am reaching my journey’s end. I have a mixed feeling. I am happy that I honestly presided over the house to the best of my abilities.”

The speaker thanked United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani for their support and guidance.

Without referring to Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), with whom he had a 40-year-long association, Chatterjee thanked its veteran leader “Comrade Jyoti Basu for his guidance and support” in his career.

He was expelled from the CPI-M after he refused to resign as speaker when the party decided to oppose the Congress-led government over the India-US nuclear deal in July last year,

Chatterjee, who won the Best Parliamentarian Award in 1996, looked back with nostalgia at his association with the house, as an MP since 1971, and said: “I sat on seat no 512. Sitting there I watched and listened, with awe and admiration, to some of the memorable speeches.”

He expressed his “great personal sorrow” that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his predecessor Atal Bihari Vajpayee (of the Bharatiya Janata Party) were unable to attend the last session of the house due to health reasons. He wished both of them a speedy recovery.

Chatterjee referred to the 24-hour Lok Sabha television as one of the initiatives he took to strengthen parliamentary democracy.

“This is the only TV channel in the world to be operated by parliament.”

“This was an important initiative,” he added, pointing out that the people had the right to know how their representatives conducted themselves in the Lok Sabha.

The speaker said he also had regular interaction with the editors and accredited journalists on improving the coverage of the house proceedings.

“The coverage has improved but it is not ample,” he observed.

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