The federal cabinet on Monday approved a bill to provide 33% reservation to the Lok Sabha and the assembly of states and union territories. Although there was no official statement, news agencies quoted Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi as saying that the bill had been approved.
Meanwhile, the main opposition Congress welcomed the move. The bill is expected to be introduced during the ongoing special session, which is set to resume operations Tuesday after moving to the new building.
Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh posted on microblogging site Waiting for the details of the bill. This could well be discussed and agreed upon at an all-party meeting before the special session, rather than operating under secrecy.”
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On March 9, 2010, the Federal House passed a bill to amend the constitution to provide reservations for women. Initially, the bill proposed reservation of women in all legislative bodies. The Standing Committee, however, recommended restrictions on reservations in the Lok Sabha at the Center and in the Legislatures of the States and Union Territory Assemblies. This proposal was accepted by the Government and included in the Bill.
After being passed by the Lok Sabha, the bill inserted a new Article 330A, which stated: “Seats in the Lok Sabha shall be reserved for women.” Since the bill could not be passed in the Lok Sabha, it lapsed and required reconsideration.
Political parties on Sunday urged the government to pass the Women’s Reservation Bill to start legislative work in the new Parliament building. Sources said some regional parties have demanded quotas for backward classes and scheduled castes within overall reservation for women. This was a key sticking point in the earlier passage of the bill.
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“All opposition parties are demanding that the women’s reservation bill be passed in this parliamentary session,” Lok Sabha Congress leader Adil Ranjan Chaudhry told reporters after the meeting. He also said the government had informed them that this was a regular session of Parliament. “Only the government knows what its intentions are. It may bring some new agenda that will surprise everyone.” He also listed issues such as rising prices, unemployment and the situation on the border with China that his party had raised at the meeting. .
BJD leader Pinaki Mishra said the new era should start with the new Parliament building and the women’s reservation bill should be passed. “The bill will not take an hour or so to pass in the Lok Sabha,” he said. JMM MP Mahua Maji from Jharkhand feels that the women’s reservation bill should also provide “reservation within reservation”. This means there should be reservations for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and OBC women; “otherwise women from these categories will not get representation.”