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BJP for double-member seats

BJP backed a formula for two MPs each -- one male and one female --in 33 per cent of seats in Parliament and state assemblies to increase political space for women.

india Updated: Jul 21, 2003 14:18 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

JP on Saturday backed a formula for two MPs each - one male and one female - in 33 per cent of seats in Parliament and state assemblies to increase political space for women without disturbing the number of men.

In a resolution adopted on the second day of its three-day national executive meeting, the BJP favoured the alternative to the vexed women's quota bill - 181 extra seats (a third of the 545-member Lok Sabha) with a provision of two seats in select constituencies by rotation.

The resolution comes ahead of a march to Parliament on Monday by some 500 women activists, led by Leader of Opposition Sonia Gandhi, to press for early passage of the women's reservation bill.

The resolution was passed after long deliberations in the presence of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, during which several BJP leaders favoured the original women's reservation bill.

The bill, which has been unable to make it past stubborn political opposition since 1996 when it was first introduced, seeks to reserve a third of seats for women in Parliament and state legislatures.

As efforts to evolve a consensus on the measure failed, the BJP suggested an alternative whereby extra seats (33 per cent of the house) would be added without disturbing the number of male MPs, and these many seats would have double MPs - one man and one woman.

However, the formula failed to move the Samajwadi Party of Mulayam Singh Yadav, which wanted no more than 15 to 20 percent reservation for women.

The speaker then came up with the new formula of 20 per cent reservation, which was reportedly discussed in a meeting of four main political parties this week.

The BJP resolution said, "The party is of the considered view that 33 per cent of the seats in the Lok Sabha be made double-member constituencies. One of the two seats be reserved for women in these constituencies, which would change on a rotational basis.

"The same approach can be adopted in state legislatures. The national executive of the BJP urges the Government to take necessary initiative in this matter and introduce a suitable constitutional amendment bill in Parliament at the earliest."

The party also favoured the early enactment of the measure with the help of a political consensus that has hitherto eluded the question of political space for women.

Union Health Minister Sushma Swaraj and Madhya Pradesh BJP leader Uma Bharti were among the prominent speakers during the deliberations.

Women's rights groups have slammed the double constituency proposal as a bid to stall quota for women, pointing out there is a freeze on delimitation of seats in Parliament based on the last population census.

With the freeze in delimitation, no new seats can be added for at least six years.

Organisations have also criticised the extra seats proposal as a way of treating women like "add-ons".

First Published: Jul 21, 2003 00:05 IST