March 9, 2001,
No sub-quota in women’s Bill: PM
New Delhi, March 8
“An all-party meeting will be held soon to discuss the issue...... ‘Koi raasta nikalana padega’ (a way out will have to be found),” Mr Vajpayee told reporters at a tea hosted by him at his residence on the International Women’s Day.
To a question about the demand by some parties like the Samajwadi Party, the BSP and the RJD for a sub-quota for backward classes and minorities in the Bill, he said “quota mein quota nahin hoga (there will be no quota within quota).”
The Prime Minister’s comments may end speculation that the government might dilute the Bill’s provisions to enable its passage, stalled so far by lack of political consensus.
Meanwhile, marking the International Women’s Day, women MPs, cutting across party lines, today asked the government to bring the constitutional amendment Bill seeking 33 per cent reservation of seats for them in the Lok Sabha and state Assemblies in the ongoing session of Parliament.
Reacting to their loud yet assertive demand during zero hour in the Lok Sabha, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Mr Pramod Mahajan, said the government was ready to move the Bill in its present form for consideration and passage provided there was consensus among all political parties on the issue.
“The government will bring forward the Women’s Bill within 24 hours if there is a general agreement among all political parties,” the minister said.
It was not for the government to pass the Bill but it all depended on the will of the political parties, Mr Mahajan said, adding that “we do not lack the intention to get the proposed Bill to be passed”.
In the Upper House, the External Affairs Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh, said the Bill had to be approved first by the Lok Sabha where it had been introduced.
“The government is standing by its commitment”, the minister said.
The issue was raised by Mrs Margaret Alva (Congress) who said the government had been promising in every session but it was not being passed.
The nation could not march forward leaving behind 50 per cent of the women population, Mrs Alva said, pointing out that women had been neglected over the years and now it was high time they were treated as equal partners in every walk of life.
Mr A. K. Premajam (CPM) pointed out that a logo brought out by the government had depicted a woman looking backward which proved its “retrograde attitude”.
The CPM member’s remark incensed the treasury benches who protested asking the member to withdraw the remark.
A BJP member, Ms Bhavana Chikalia, said the President, Mr K.R. Narayanan, in his joint Address on the first day of the present session had underlined the need for early passage of the Bill.
Mrs Girija Vyas (Congress) said the Union Budget presented by the government had totally ignored women.
Mrs Renu Kumari (JD-U) and Ms Sandhya Bauri (CPM) also spoke on the issue asking the government to bring the Bill at the earliest.
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