BJP accepts report to provide 33 per cent reservation to women

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Bhopal, Sep 22 (UNI) The BJP today accepted the report of senior party leader Sushma Swaraj to provide 33 per cent reservation to women within the organisation.

Making the announcement, Mrs Swaraj said it was a day to be etched in golden letters in Bhopal because it happened at the 'karmabhoomi' of the late Raj Mata Vijayaraje Scindia, the party's tallest woman leader since the Jan Sangh's days.

The National Executive accepted the six-member panel report after a detailed discussion in which senior BJP leader L K Advani wound up the discussions by asking the party to build pressure on the government to bring a law making it compulsory for all political parties to field 33 per cent women among the seats contested.

The party would now have to amend its constitution to incorporate the suggestions of the Sushma Panel in its next National Council meeting. There were suggestions in the Executive to convene this meeting in one month but no decision had been taken, she said.

The composition of the 81-member National Executive will comprise 27 women members instead of 14 once the decision was implemented. Similarly, the party would have to accommodate more women in the office-bearers too, she said. There would be proportional representation from among the women from the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, she added.

In the state units where organisational elections had already been held, the panel suggested to increase the number of State Executive and Election panels to ensure accommodation of 33 per cent women. This would also avoid the feeling of frustration among men who had already made it to various organisational entities through elections.

Mrs Swaraj said the report highlighted that the BJP was among the progressive parties which had ensured the presence of substantial number of women at all levels without a law. The party had adequate representation of women even in the apex nine-member Parliamentary Board. This, in comparison to the so-called progressive party like the Communist Party of India (Marxist) which was having its first member in its highest decision making body-the Polit Bureau, she remarked.

She said most of the women leaders in the BJP, including herself, had emerged without reservation and the party had fielded three women Chief Ministers to head the State Governments. Mrs Uma Bharti and herself had headed governments in Madhya Pradesh and Delhi while Rajasthan was still headed by Ms Vasundhara Raje, she said.

When reporters chided the BJP for 'dumping a woman CM midway', Mrs Swaraj said it had happened with male Chief Ministers also and recalled that Mr Kailas Joshi and Babulal Gaur too had been removed ahead of their tenures in office.

Asked whether the acceptance of the report would mean that she could become the next BJP president or the Prime Ministerial candidate after the next Lok Sabha elections, Mrs Swaraj said, ''I am not at all aspiring (to occupy these posts). There is scope for a woman to become President, but one has to wait for her turn.'' She urged reporters not to ''trivialise'' the issue.

The women members of the panel led by Sushma Swaraj included Sumitra Mahajan, Najma Heptulla, Kiran Maheshwari. BJP Vice President Bal Apte, party MP Kiron Rijuju and Kishan Reddy were the male members of the panel which submitted the report.

She replied in the affirmative to the question of whether there was a need to constitute a BJP Women Morcha after the implementation of the report. Once the party felt there was enough representation of women, the Mahila Morcha could be wound up, she said.


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