Highest importance to women’s bill: Sonia to MPs

New Delhi, March 4 (IANS) Congress president Sonia Gandhi told party MPs Thursday that she accorded the ‘highest importance’ to the women’s reservation bill and it would be a ‘gift to the women of India if it is introduced and passed’ in parliament on March 8, International Women’s Day.

‘Other than the Right to Food Security, I personally attach the highest importance to the women’s reservation bill,’ Gandhi said while addressing the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP).

‘So many years have passed since Rajivji first unveiled his vision of empowering us women. It is a matter of pride that even though it has taken so long, it is our government that has cleared the legislation in cabinet.

‘This year on March 8 is the centenary of International Women’s Day. What a gift to the women of India, if on this important day this historic legislation is introduced and passed,’ Gandhi added.

The 30-minute meeting started at 9.30 a.m.

Gandhi also said that the government was ready to place the ‘draft Food Security Bill for discussion in the public domain’.

The proposal for providing 33 percent reservation to women in legislatures has been pending for over 13 years — since 1996 when it was first brought to parliament by the H.D. Deve Gowda government.

In its present form, the Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill, 2008, has the backing of the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Left. But it is being opposed by the Samajwadi Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Janata Dal-United.

For the bill to be passed, it has to be supported by two-thirds of those present and voting. This figure should also be at least 50 percent of the total number of MPs in the house.

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