BJP backs poll panel proposal on women’s reservation


New Delhi : Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushma Swaraj Saturday stated her party had not backtracked on its demand for 33 percent reservation for women in parliament and state legislatures but merely modified it by agreeing to the Election Commission’s proposal.

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Delivering her valedictory address to the Mahila Morcha here, Swaraj said: “We have agreed to the Election Commission proposal. I have already explained that we have agreed to the poll panel proposal only to facilitate and expedite women’s reservation.”

The Election Commission under former chief election commissioner M.S. Gill had suggested during the rule of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) that the government could pass an act in parliament, making it obligatory for political parties to set aside a certain agreed percentage of tickets for women candidates, since no consensus was developing on the existing proposal.

This is different from setting aside 33 percent seats in the parliament and state legislatures for women.

But Swaraj insisted, “We have not diluted our demand. The Election Commission proposal is easy to get passed and the United Progressive Alliance parties may also agree to it, and then it will become obligatory on all parties to set aside 33 percent for women.”

Swaraj had unsuccessfully steered the bill for women’s reservation when she was parliamentary affairs minister.

The BJP is organizing a women’s rally on Feb 21, a day ahead of the budget session of parliament, and hopes to bring 100,000 women from across the country to press the government to bring in a bill for women’s reservation.

Swaraj also declared that if the UPA government does not get the Women’s Reservation Bill introduced, “when the BJP comes to power it will surely get the bill passed”.