All-party meeting on womens quota Bill fails to make progress

New Delhi: Yet another effort to reach a consensus on the Women’s Reservation Bill failed to make any progress with two major political parties staying away from an all-party meeting in New Delhi on Wednesday and others opposed to the measure sticking to their guns.

The meeting convened by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar saw the Shiv Sena demanding that parties should have a quota for women in ticket distribution, while the Rashtriya Janata Dal insisted that there should be a “quota within quota” for OBC women.

The Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party stayed away from the meeting, which was attended by the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Left parties, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Shironmani Akali Dal and the Trinamool Congress. The SP and the BSP are opposed to the Bill in its present form.

“I will call the SP and the BSP separately to discuss the issue… Efforts will continue till consensus is achieved,” Ms. Kumar told reporters after the meeting, adding that another meeting would be convened before the monsoon session.

Those present in the meeting were of the opinion that the Bill should be brought in the Lok Sabha in the monsoon session of Parliament which begins on August 1. The Bill was passed in Rajya Sabha in March, 2010.

Shiv Sena MP Ananth Geete told the meeting that instead of a 33 per cent reservation for women in Lok Sabha and State Assemblies, political parties should be asked to have a similar quantum of reservation for women while distributing tickets to their candidates.

RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad demanded that there should be a “quota within quota” for OBC women in the 33 per cent reservation.

Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj asked the Speaker to evolve a consensus before the Bill is brought in the House to prevent acrimonious scenes that were witnessed in the Rajya Sabha when the Bill was passed in March 2010.

“Members who disagree should be given a chance to put across their views and be allowed to press for amendments and even walkout. In the Rajya Sabha marshals had to be used. But no similar scenes should be repeated in the Lok Sabha,” Ms. Swaraj said.

She maintained that the BJP had supported the Bill in the Rajya Sabha and would take the same stand in the Lower House.

Ms. Kumar said the meeting was called after several members expressed the desire on International Women’s Day that a meeting of political leaders from all parties should be held to discuss the Bill.