Women’s quota Bill demand resonates at all-party meet

New Delhi : Demands for the passage of the long-pending women's quota Bill dominated the proceedings of the all-party meeting convened by the government on the eve of the special session of Parliament commencing here tomorrow.

A majority of anti-BJP bloc parties led by the Congress called for the historic Bill to be passed. Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said all Opposition parties had demanded the passage of the Bill. “So far as the agenda goes, only the government knows what it intends. It may surprise us all with some new agenda, although it has been said that the session will be regular,” Chowdhury said after the meeting where the government was represented by ministers Rajnath Singh, Piyush Goyal and Pralhad Joshi.

Joshi, commenting on the demands for the women's Bill, said, “An appropriate decision will be taken at an appropriate time.” The Bill seeks to reserve one-third of the seats for women in Parliament and state Assemblies with regional parties such as the RJD learnt to have demanded quota within quota, sticking to their old positions.

Joshi said the meeting today paid tributes to security personnel who sacrificed their lives in . On September 13, four security personnel — Col Manpreet Singh, Commanding Officer, 19 Rashtriya Rifles; Major Ashish Dhonchak, J&K Police DSP Himayun Bhat and a soldier—were killed by terrorists in Kashmir's Anantnag. Importantly, BJP ally Praful Patel of the NCP also backed the women's Bill. “We appeal to the government to pass the women's Bill in this Parliament session and are hopeful that it will be cleared by consensus, if tabled,” said Patel. BJD's Pinaki Mishra backed the Bill too.

The Congress further said that it had sought discussions on price rise, unemployment and the LAC situation. On the women's Bill, Congress chief whip in Rajya Sabha Jairam Ramesh said, “The CWC has demanded that the women's reservation Bill must be passed during the special session of Parliament. As PM, Dr Manmohan Singh had brought the Constitution Amendment Bill for one-third reservation for women in Parliament and state legislatures. The Bill was passed on March 9, 2010, in the Rajya Sabha. But it was not taken up in the Lok Sabha. Bills introduced or passed in Rajya Sabha do not lapse. So, the reservation Bill is still very much active.”

Ramesh said the Congress had for the past nine years been demanding that the women's Bill be passed by the Lok Sabha.