BJP urges PM to ensure Women Bill is passed before 2009 polls

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New Delhi, May 6 (UNI) The BJP today criticised the manner in which the long-awaited Women Reservation Bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha amid pandemonium and urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to ensure that it was adopted in the next session of Parliament to enable women enjoy its benefits in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

Assuring all support on behalf of her party to the Women Bill, BJP Deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha Sushma Swaraj wrote a letter to the Prime Minister urging him that since the government had introduced the Bill in the Rajya Sabha on the last day of the budget session and referred it to the Standing Committee, he should ensure that it was passed well before the 2009 Parliamentary election.

She said, ''I have also pointed out to him that since the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) had already given its recommendations of the Bill earlier, there was no need that it be referred to the Standing Committee.'' The Prime Minister, however, rejected the idea and justified it being sent to the Standing Committee.

Talking to newspersons, Ms Swaraj said the government did not seem to be very keen on the legislation for providing 33 per cent reservation to women in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies.

Otherwise, the Bill would not have been brought out in the Rajya Sabha when the Lok Sabha was adjourned sine die yesterday.

Yet, the BJP would extend all support to the Bill as the party had been all along in favour of giving 33 per cent reservation to women in Parliament and state assemblies and had already effected one-third representation in the organisational bodies.

Ms Swaraj said leaders of the political parties, opposing the Bill, had already made their intention clear to the government in the morning meeting, saying that they would tear the copies and not allow the government to pilot the legislation.

''Now if the government has introduced the Bill despite the protests by the leaders, it must get it passed as early as possible either in the Monsoon session or Winter session as the next Budget session would be spent on Vote on Account before the 2009 Election,'' she asserted.

She said some time was needed as to effect the Bill, it would be necessary to amend the Representation of the People's Act.

Ms Swaraj criticised the manner in which the sittings of Parliament were being curtailed even as there were important issues listed on the agenda.

She said the Bill was a brainchild of former BJP leader late Sahib Singh Verma. The government, however, put it on agenda today, knowing fully well it would not be possible to take it up, as SP, BSP members would force adjournment on the Women Bill.

Commenting on the manner in which the House was adjourned, Ms Swaraj said it did not seem well for Parliamentary democracy as it should have been adjourned after the valedictory reference by the Chairman and observations by the Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition.

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