On the occasion of the International Women’s Day, the Lok Sabha today dedicated considerable time of the day to discuss on women related issues and on the much talked about Women’s Reservation Bill.
Just when the House assembled for the day, the Speaker Ms Meira Kumar read out a brief message befitting the occasion.
The House took up over an hour discussion after the Question Hour to talk on women related matters.
Initiating the discussion, the Leader of the Opposition, Sushma Swaraj said India takes pride in telling the world that top four positions in the country are held by women. She said the President, Lok Sabha Speaker, UPA chairperson and the Leader of the Opposition are all women; but lamented at the same breadth that only the women membership in the House was only 10 per cent. This discrimination can be achieved only by reservations, she said adding in many BJP and NDA ruled states even the women quota for local bodies and panchayats have been raised to 50 per cent.
She appealed to all members saying there is a need for consensus to ensure that the long pending Women Reservation Bill seeking to provide 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament and state legislature is passed by the Lok Sabha.
She requested the Speaker to convene an all party meeting after the ensuing elections in the five states.
The Finance Minister and Leader of the House, Pranab Mukherjee said he entirely agreed with the Opposition leader and opined that she should also take some initiative to ensure consensus on the same.
“Let us commit ourselves that we shall find a solution to the issue,” he said.
Girija Vyas, Congress, urged upon the male members in the House to appreciate that women want to walk along side by side with men and requested that the Women Quota Bill should not be obstructed.
Basudeb Acharia, CPI-M said the passing of the bill and giving 33 per cent reservation to women can only help resolve various problems confronting women.
Trinamool Congress MP, Dr Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar in a spirited speech said mere political reservation is not enough to ensure uplift of women. Quoting legendary poet, Nazrul Islam, she said, what ever beautiful in this world is half done by women and the rest by men.
She pointed out that the social menaces like honour killing and women trafficking and wondered how 75 per cent of Indian women were suffering from anemia.
Amid repeated moments of laughter, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, whose party is against the bill, said we are not against women reservation, but we are not in favour of the Bill in its present form. He said during NDA regime too in presence of the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, he had suggested for the political parties to allot the quota to the women candidates. It can be 15 or 20 per cent, I had said this earlier, Yadav said.
Another senior member who is known for opposing the bill, Sharad Yadv, of JD-U stressed that there should be general consensus on the Bill. He said the present intent of the bill only to promote the interest of the creamy layer women is erroneous.
NCP member Supriya Sule recalled that Maharashtra was the first state to give women reservation in local bodies and zilla parishads way back in 1993.
She said the reservation is not aimed at helping women like her or BJP leader Sushma Swaraj but it should be for the bottom of the pyramid.
Tatagatha Satpathy of Biju Janata Dal said the issue of women emancipation should not be confined merely to reservation in parliament and state legislature. He wondered whether women need such concessions or mercy from the men folk. This is the only country which has respected Matri Shakti for ages and maintained that with such commitment the country can really forge ahead.
Anandrao Adsul, Shiv Sena said his party has always supported the bill. Similar sentiments were expressed by Prabodh Panda (CPI), Nama Nageshwar TDP and S Sammelai AIADMK.
Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, RJD, which is also opposed to the bill in the present form, maintained that mere reservation is no panacea to all the ailments that confront women.
BSP member Baliram said from ages the women in India have faced neglect and disrespect. He underlined that there should be a concern how poor and neglected women should come up in the social graph.
The Speaker Ms Meira Kumar read out few lines from one of her self-penned poems.
“Pankh bhi hae, khula akash bhi hae
Phir na uur pane ki majbori kaise”, she read out and argued that there is need for reservation and announced that an all-party meeting will be convened after the ensuing state assembly elections in the five states.
During the Question Hour too, virtually coinciding with the International Women’s Day today, a considerable time was dedicated to the serious issue of various kinds of crime against women. Replying to a query from BJP member Kabindra Purkayastha, the Home Minister P Chidambaram said the crime against women in Delhi is a “serious issue”. However, he hastened to add that in the recent months there has been a decline in the crime rate against women in the national capital.
Meena Singh, JD (U) wanted to know whether the Centre is repeatedly washing off its own hands by simply sending advisories to the states.
The Home Minister responded to her by stating that while he is not undermining the role of the centre on the matter, at the same time it cannot be denied that the states have primary responsibility on these issues. He also said lately the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has been very active and taking up the cases. NHRC has also disbursed financial compensation, he said.
During the Zero hour, Yogi Adityanath, BJP and Narayan Singh Amlabe (Congress) raised issues concerning their respective constituencies.
Rama Devi, BJP raised the issue of long pending railway projects in Motihari area of Bihar. She wondered while several projects were neglected in Bihar, the railway ministry’s focus in recent months has been only directed towards West Bengal.
Rajaiah Siricila, Congress member demanded change in agricultural strategy to exploit the full potentials. He also suggested that there should be introduction of dedicated Indian Agriculture Service cadre in the civil service to give a push to the agricultural initiatives.
The House later took up general discussion on the budget. Initiating the debate, senior BJP member Murli Manohar Joshi lashed out at the budget proposals for fiscal 2011-12 presented by the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee last month.
He said the budget should not be a mere game of statistics and figures.
Wondering whether this budget is really aimed to help Aam Admi, farmers, unemployed or only for the rich, he charged that the Finance Minister’s proposals to grant customs duty relaxation in items like gold and diamond was only aimed to helping the rich and corporate.
He said in bringing down the fiscal deficit from 5.5 to 5.1 percent also, the Finance Minister should not take credit for
It is rather due to exaggeratingly high profit revenue garnered by the government due to sale of 3G spectrum.