Hope evades; no consensus for Women's Reservation Bill

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Indian women
New Delhi, Jun 22: With the LokPal Bill drafting committee split wide open with no consensus achieved by both parties, the Union government and the Anna Hazare led Civil Society team, it looks like the Women's Reservation Bill is encountering the same fate.

After the all-party meeting called by Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar ended without consensus, more differences seem to have cropped up. The meeting also saw Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), both against the Bill choosing to skip the meeting.

Meira Kumar expressed hope in pulling the Bill through and said that another meeting would be convened soon to discuss the issue after making some changes in the proposed bill draft. She also added that consultations will continue with political parties on the same.

The speaker in an earlier letter to most political parties had sought an early passage of the Bill in the Lok Sabha. The Upper House Rajya Sabha passed it on 9 Mar 2010. The government is seeking a broad consensus when presenting it in the Parliament's monsoon session.

The controversial Women's Reservation Bill if passed will see women having 33 per cent reservation in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies. But the issues over the Bill seem to be far from resolved with parties like the SP, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and Janata Dal (United) seeking another quota within the proposed Women's Bill for those from the backward classes.

The Women's Reservation Bill has been in the pipeline for long since the last 14 years. First drafted by the H D Deve Gowda-led United Front government and brought to Parliament in September 1996, the views on the Bill are still divided.

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