New Delhi: Members, cutting across party lines in Rajya Sabha, made a passionate plea for early passage of the legislation to provide 33 percent reservation to women in Parliament and state assemblies on the International Women's Day on Tuesday.
While the Rajya Sabha had exactly six years ago passed the Women's Reservation Bill, the legislation has since been pending in Lok Sabha. To mark the Women's Day, the Upper House decided to allow all women law-makers, who had given notices to raise Zero Hour mentions, the first chance.
Congress members took credit of getting the bill passed in Rajya Sabha during the UPA rule on March 9, 2010 and sought to know what the present government was doing when it had absolute majority in the Lok Sabha. Deputy Chairman P J Kurien suggested a discussion on the women's reservation issue. "We can put indirect pressure so that bill is passed (in Lok Sabha)," he said.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the government was ready for a discussion on the issue. Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla said she, as a minister, cannot give zero hour notice but would want to speak on the issue. She lamented that the Constitution Amendment Bill was passed by Rajya Sabha but was still pending in Lok Sabha, adding that the matter was first debated in 1995.
"I hope this year, the Bill will be passed," she said and observed that she would be happy when ordinary women get empowered. Heptulla said women are still discriminated against and the House should pass a resolution for a cleaner society where women are protected.
"I feel not only women but time has come for men too to speak about women's empowerment," she said. Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said Rajya Sabha can take pride that it has passed the women's reservation bill. "All of us expect and hope it becomes law of land."
Viplove Thakur (Cong) said child marriages are prevalent even today in Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Telengana and Andhra Pradesh and added that this day should not be merely celebrated as a mere ritual.
Rajani Patil (Cong) said Rajiv Gandhi showed the way through the 73rd Amendment providing reservation in village panchayats and Manmohan Singh showed political will by getting the women's bill passed in Rajya Sabha. She asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to show political will and "pass it in Lok Sabha where you have majority" and said there was a need to change the mindset.