The government expressed the hope that the Women’s Reservation Bill, 2008 would be passed in the current session of Parliament despite opposition from some political parties.
“I am expecting men and women to support me when I present the Bill in Rajya Sabha tomorrow [Monday],” Union Law and Justice Minister Veerappa Moily said at a function here.
He said consensus among major political parties emerged after a lot of consultations but added that no single party could claim credit for it. The Bill has been pending for over a decade.
Meanwhile, the Samajwadi Party has described the proposed legislation as “anti-Muslim and anti-other backward classes” in its present form as it excluded women of these sections.
Terming the Bill “dangerous,” SP chief Mulayam Singh suggested in Lucknow that women be given 50 per cent reservation in government jobs rather than a quota in Parliament and the State Assemblies.
The SP has called a meeting of its Rajya Sabha members for Monday morning to chalk out its course of action when the Bill is tabled.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal, too, has said it would oppose the Bill “tooth and nail and is “even prepared to be marshalled out.”
Describing the Bill as a “political blunder,” RJD president Lalu Prasad said in Patna that it was a conspiracy hatched by both the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress to suppress representation of women belonging to the Other Backward Classes, the Scheduled Tribes/Scheduled Castes and Muslim communities.
While there is a split in the Janata Dal (United) over the Bill with the Bihar Chief Minister extending support and party chief Sharad Yadav opposing it, the Bahujan Samaj Party has said it will not back the legislation in its present form.
Janata Dal (Secular) chief H.D. Deve Gowda, too, has said that his party will support the Bill only if there is reservation for OBC women.
But undeterred by these developments, Mr. Moily said: “After all, the country needs such legislation and with our best intentions, the political parties could not evolve a system where adequate representation was made available to women.”
He said the proposed constitutional amendment was the only “remedy” to provide adequate representation to women.
“The people of the country, the women and Parliament will take the credit. There is no partition in this credit,” he said, when asked to react on the BJP’s claim that it had first introduced the proposed legislation in the Lok Sabha but it could not be passed following stiff opposition.