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Women MPs toe party lines on Reservation Bill

August 12, 2005 13:15 IST

Consensus eluded a meeting of women parliamentarians, convened on Friday by Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil to discuss the women's Reservation Bill, with most of them reflecting the views of the party they represent.

Major parties Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party supported the formula mooted by the Centre to increase the number of seats in Parliament and state legislatures by 33% to accord reservation to women, official sources said.

However, representatives of smaller parties, like the Rashtriya Janata Dal and Samajwadi Party toed their party line opposing the Centre's proposal. The Communist Party of India-Marxist favoured the bill to be introduced in its original form.

"There was a difference of opinion," Patil said, expressing hope that an understanding would be reached to give shape to the much-debated bill.

"Women members of Parliament were candid in their views, some had original ideas, but the thinking was influenced by the parties they represent," he told reporters after the meeting, which is a part of an exercise initiated by the government to evolove a consensus on the issue.

Patil, alongwith Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, has already met leaders of almost 20 parties including BJP, Congress, Left parties, Samajwadi Party and RJD.

Asked if the bill would be introduced during the ongoing monsoon session of Parliament, he said, "I will not say anything on that."

Senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj said her party would extend full support to the bill when the government brings it in Parliament. 

Expressing their strong disapproval of the Centre's formula, CPI-M MP Chandrakala Pandey and Jyotirmayee Sikdar said, "We do not want the bill to be linked to the exercise of delimitation as it would be a time consuming process."

They wanted the bill to be introduced in its original format as suggested by the Geeta Mukherjee Commission for reserving 33% seats in Lok Sabha and state assemblies for women.

Union Tourism Minister and Congress MP Renuka Chowdhury said a consensus should be arrived at before the bill is introduced in Parliament.

"All women MPs should pressurise their respective parties to introduce 33% reservation in the forthcoming elections," she said.

"We should unmask those opposing the bill. We do not want the Bill to fail," she said.

RJD demanded reservation for the backward classes within the 33% reservation mooted for women, said its MP Kanti Singh, who is also minsiter for state for Human Resources and Development.

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