Keeping an eye on the upcoming zilla parishad and municipal bodies' elections, making the right noises to woo women voters was indeed good political sense. On the eve of the International Women's Day, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said that the party was keen on increasing reservation for women in local self-government institutions to 50% and proposal to this effect would soon be presented before the Cabinet.
"Congress has always been supportive of women's reservation in politics and late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was the first one to moot this idea in the country," said Chavan.
CM's statement comes in the backdrop of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) making a similar demand just a week ago. NCP chief Sharad Pawar had asked the rural development minister, Jayant Patil, and deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar to meet Chavan to press for 50% reservation for women before the upcoming zilla parishad polls. More than 30 zilla parishad elections are slated for next year, along with half a dozen municipal corporations including Mumbai. Currently, the state has 33 per cent reservation for women in local self-government, which was first introduced by the then chief minister Sharad Pawar in 1992.
Rural development department minister Jayant Patil said, "There should not be any hiccups in clearing this proposal. We already have a responsible, independent cadre of women leaders at grassroots due to the 33 per cent reservation." Congress sources said that NCP had just hijacked the issue, which was already under consideration by the government.