Debating India

Bid to break deadlock on Women’s Bill

Saturday 6 August 2005

Special Correspondent

Centre moots more seats

-  Proposal to increase seats in Lok Sabha to 900 and in the State Assemblies to 9,000 Left parties for bringing back original Bill BJP ready to support any consensus proposal

NEW DELHI: As part of the ongoing consensus building exercise on political reservation for women, the Government has proposed a substantial increase in the number of Lok Sabha seats and a "consequent increase" in the strength of State Assembly seats while simultaneously reserving one-third of the total legislature seats for women.

Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad held separate meetings with leaders of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Communist Party of India, the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Telugu Desam and some others here on Friday.

Mr. Azad was tightlipped saying the meetings were "inconclusive" and these were an exercise which would cover all political parties. He was unwilling to give details of the government proposal.

The BJP deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, said the Government proposed increasing the Lok Sabha strength to 900 and the total seats in State Assemblies from around 6,000 to 9,000.

While the BJP was willing to give its support to "any proposal" on which political consensus could be built to take forward the goal of increased representation to women, Ms. Swaraj said, both the CPI (M) and the CPI favoured the Government bringing before the House without delay the 1996 Women’s Reservation Bill drafted during the United Front regime.

"Bring the Bill in its original form... let members give their suggestions on the floor of the House," CPI (M) parliamentary party leader Basudev Acharia told reporters later.

On the Government’s proposal to increase Lok Sabha seats, he said it would complicate and delay the entire process since a fresh delimitation exercise would be needed.

Members of the CPI - Gurudas Dasgupta, D. Raja and Sudhakar Reddy - who met the three Ministers held a similar view. "We support the 1996 Bill," Mr. Dasgupta and Mr. Raja said after the meeting. However, "our eyes are not closed" and "we would be willing to look at the government proposal with an open mind" with the goal of a "guaranteed" one-third reservation of all seats for women".

See online : The Hindu

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