Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar will call an all party meeting after elections in five states to build a consensus of Women Reservation Bill passed in Rajya Sabha last year.
Speaking at end of a special discussion on International Women’s Day, Kumar expressed hope that there will be convergence among all parties on how to ensure that 33% of members in Lok Sabha are women.
With 10.8% women representation in Lok Sabha and 10.3% in Rajya Sabha, the world’s biggest democracy India is ranked 98th for empowering women through legislative participation in the world.
India is ranked 47 places below its neighbour Pakistan and 80 places below Nepal along with Benin and Jordan, according to data released by Inter-Parliamentary Union. There are 12 countries, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Oman, which have zero women representation in their national assemblies, the report said.
While Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj and Basudeb Acharya of CPIM sought quick introduction of the women reservation bill, Mulayam Singh Yadav of Samajwadi Party and Raghuvansh Prasad Singh of RJD opposed the bill.
“There should be reservation in allocation of tickets by political parties,” Yadav suggested, saying that reserving Lok Sabha seats would result in death of democracy. Sharad Yadav of JD (U) wanted introduction of concept of creamy layer in the women reservation bill.
Swaraj said although top four leaders in the country were women – herself, speaker Kumar, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and President Pratibha Devisingh Patil --- the number of women in Lok Sabha had stagnated at 10 % for decades. “We have introduced reservation for women in local bodies and it has resulted in lakhs of women getting elected,” she said.
Supporting the Congress’s commitment to the bill, Leader of the House Pranab Mukerjee stressed on a need for having a consensus on the issue and said: “Let us commit a way out to introduce the bill in next session of Lok Sabha.”
The division in Lok Sabha on women reservation bill was apparent even as civil society organizations sought a quick passage of the bill.