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Women’s Reservation Bill still hanging in limbo

By Reetu

Women’s Reservation Bill still hanging in limbo
Women's Reservation Bill has always been a bone of contention and triggered heated debates in Parliament and outside. The Bill which advocates active political participation of women has been kept in and out of the cold storage for 18 years.

The Bill is still stuck in a limbo as those opposing it are saying it will ‘only' help women of elitist groups. Let's discuss the complete issue in detail:

What is Women's Reservation Bill?

• Women's Reservation Bill is a pending bill in India which proposes to reserve 33 per cent of all seats in the Lok Sabha, and in all state legislative assemblies for women.

• The proposed legislation was drafted first by the HD Deve Gowda-led United Front Government and was introduced in the Lower House of Parliament, Lok Sabha on September 12, 1996.

• If the Bill is passed, one-third of the total available seats would be reserved for women in national, state, or local governments.

Why is the Bill still in limbo?

• The path-breaking Bill was greenlighted by the Rajya Sabha to create legislative history. It was first introduced in the Lok Sabha on September 12, 1996.

• After being passed in the Upper House, Rajya Sabha on 9 March 2010, the Bill still awaits clearance from the Lok Sabha.

• There are many political parties who are against the Bill thus not letting its clearance in the Lower House.

• The Bill has been introduced in Parliament several times but it could not be passed due to lack of political consensus.

Who is opposing the Bill?

• From the very beginning, Lalu Prasad Yadav of the Rashtriya Janata Dal and Mulayam Singh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party have been the main political opponents to the Bill.

• Other parties who oppose the Bill in its present form are: Janata Dal United (JD(U)), Shiv Sena, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen Party (AIMIM), and the Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP).

Argument in favour

• The idea of reservation is to create a level playing field so that women can raise their share in politics and society and then, look for equal status.

• Congress president Sonia Gandhi recently said that her only regret is that her government could not get the Women's Reservation Bill passed even though it was cleared in Rajya Sabha.

Argument against the Bill

• Those opposing the Bill want a quota within quota for women from backward classes.

• SP leader Mulayam Singh had said, "The Women Reservation Bill, if passed in present format, would provoke young men to whistle in Parliament."

• Mulayam favours making it mandatory for political parties to give 10 per cent of election tickets to women.

• Most members opposing say that it is better to create reservation of women in political parties than in Parliament.

• Parties have also said that this step will only benefit the women from elite class and the poor will not get any benefit from the same.

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