NCP MP Supriya Sule on Monday strongly defended the Congress after the BJP criticised it over the Women’s Reservation Bill issue, saying that India’s first female Prime Minister and President were from the Congress and the legislation was also brought by the party. But, the Bill could not be passed since the party lacked numbers, she said.
Participating in the discussion in Lok Sabha on “Parliamentary Journey of 75 years starting from Samvidhan Sabha — Achievements, Experiences, Memories and Learnings”, Supriya Sule urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bring the Women’s Reservation Bill and assured that her party will support it.
“Most women MPs have been asking about the Women’s Reservation Bill. Everyone sitting here has been concerned about it,” she said on the first day of the five-day special session of Parliament that began today.
Responding to BJP MP Rakesh Singh’s remarks asking what the Congress has done to ensure reservation for women while it was in power for decades, Supriya Sule said, “I would like to set the record straight… The first woman President of India, Pratibha Patil, was from the Congress, the first woman PM of the country, Indira Gandhi, was from the Congress, the first woman Speaker, Meira Kumar, was from the Congress.”
“I would like to put one more thing on record which Rakesh Singh seems to have missed out, the Women’s Reservation Bill was brought by the Congress. Unfortunately we did not have the numbers then and could not pass it,” she said.
Supriya Sule also hailed former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and former Maharashtra Chief Minister and her father Sharad Pawar for bringing in 33 per cent reservation for women in every panchayat.
“I am very proud to say that Maharashtra was the first state to bring it (the reservation) to 33 per cent and then we raised it to 50 per cent. This is what has been done for women,” the NCP leader said. She also urged the Prime Minister to get the Women’s Reservation Bill passed.
“I take this opportunity that since we are all deliberating here, 50 per cent of India’s population is women… Maybe the first decision the Prime Minister can take is (to bring this Bill) and we all will support him if he brings in reservation for women in Parliament and assemblies,” Ms Sule said.
The last concrete development on the issue was in 2010 when the Rajya Sabha passed the Bill amid chaos with marshals escorting out some MPs who opposed the move to reserve 33 per cent seats for women in Lok Sabha and state assemblies. But the Bill lapsed as it could not be passed by Lok Sabha.
While the BJP and the Congress have always supported the Bill, opposition from other parties and demands of some for quota for backward classes within the women’s quota have been the key sticking points.
A day ahead of the Parliament session, several parties at an all-party meet on Sunday made a strong pitch for bringing and passing the Bill during the session. But the government said an “appropriate decision will be taken at the appropriate time”.
In her remarks, Supriya Sule also made a slew of suggestions as the parliamentarians move into the new Parliament building. The functioning of Parliament is to shift to the new building tomorrow.
She urged the government to appoint a deputy Speaker, noting that the current Lok Sabha term is the only one in which there has not been any deputy Speaker. She also called for increasing the parliamentary sittings and sessions.
Ms Sule said that since the number of constituents are constantly going up, the MPLADS funds are not enough and something should be done about it.
She asserted that Question Hour should not be disrupted and also called for strengthening the private member bill mechanism.