New Delhi: On the occasion of International Women’s Day, all parties on Tuesday favoured reservation for women in Lok Sabha and assemblies but differences over the quota came to the fore, following which government urged speaker Meira Kumar to take fresh initiative to evolve a consensus.
In an impromptu debate, members expressed their views with SP, RJD and JD(U) warning against pushing the Women’s Reservation Bill that provides for 33% quota in its original form in the Lok Sabha, as was done in Rajya Sabha.
Responding to the members’ views, leader of the house Pranab Mukherjee said, “I entirely agree with the Leader of Opposition (Sushma Swaraj). There is convergence of views .... It will be highly appreciative if some initiative is taken by you to try to find a solution, if possible through reconciliation.”
Underlining the need for a dialogue, he said “We will be able to demonstrate that we can find ways to resolve the irreconcilable differences. Let us commit ourselves on this day to find a way out. This way only, we can fulfil our long-standing commitment.”
Earlier raising the issue, Swaraj said there was need for a consensus over the bill, pending for last 16 years, at a time when the top four posts of President, speaker, leader of Opposition and UPA chairperson were being held by women.
She wanted Kumar to convene a meeting of all political parties after the assembly elections in five states with the resolve to find a way out so as to make the passage of the bill, already passed by Rajya Sabha a year ago, a reality.
Observing that several meetings have been held without any decision in the matter, she said “hold the meeting for two, three or four days. Don’t call it off before a solution is hammered out.”
Supporting reservation for women in Parliament and state assemblies, the Speaker said that after the assembly polls, a meeting of parties should be called to evolve a consensus.
“I feel reservation is important....I am fully hopeful that some solution will emerge”, she said, reciting a couplet recently written by her on women’s empowerment.
Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP), Sharad Yadav (JD-S) and Raghuvansh Prasad Singh (RJD) warned of dire consequences if quota within quota was not provided for women from backward classes, minorities and scheduled castes and tribes.
“The bill was passed by force. If the same is attempted here (in Lok Sabha), there will be war”, the RJD leader said.
Maintaining that he was not opposed to reservation for women, Mulayam Singh Yadav said political parties should give 20% of their tickets to women candidates.
Opposing the bill in its present form, he said, “If it is passed like this, there will not be a single male member in this House. We will be asked to leave and make room for women.”