Sule urged the prime minister to get the Women's Reservation Bill passed. NEW DELHI: NCP leader Supriya Sule on Monday strongly defended the Congress after the BJP criticised it over the Women's Reservation Bill issue, saying the first woman prime minister and president were from the Congress and the legislation was also brought by it. But the bill could not be passed due to lack of 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", Sule urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bring the Women's Reservation Bill and assured that her party would 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 session of Parliament.
Responding to BJP MP Rakesh Singh's remarks asking what had the Congress done about ensuring reservation for women despite being in power for decades, 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 and we could not get it passed," she said. 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 (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," Sule said. The last concrete development on the issue was in 2010 when Rajya Sabha passed the bill amid a ruckus 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 by other parties and demands from some for quota for backward classes within the women's quota have been key sticking points.
A day ahead of the Parliament session, several parties at an all-party meet on Sunday had made a strong pitch for bringing and passing the women's reservation bill during the session, but the government said an "appropriate decision will be taken at the appropriate time". In her remarks, 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 on Tuesday.
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 parliamentary sittings and sessions. 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 private member bill mechanism. (THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)