Women’s bill in Lok Sabha after consultation: Congress


New Delhi : The Congress said Friday it was keen to get the women’s reservation bill passed in the Lok Sabha but said it will be brought to the lower house only after consultation with political parties.

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Paban Singh Ghatowar, the Congress chief whip in the Lok Sabha, refused to specify a time-frame for bringing the bill, saying that dates taken by the media were “speculation.”

The landmark bill, passed by the Rajya Sabha Tuesday after two days of acrimony, seeks to reserve a third of all seats in legislatures for women.

“We are keen to get the bill passed. It will be brought (to the Lok Sabha) after completion of the discussion process,” Ghatowar told IANS.

He said the consultation process, for which no dates have been decided as yet, may last more than one round.

“The government sincerely wants to sort out the differences as far as possible,” he said.

Ghatowar refused to say if the Lok Sabha would approve the proposed legislation in this session. “I cannot comment,” he said.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee assured the Lok Sabha Thursday that the government would consult political parties over the women’s bill. Some parties say they will not back the bill in the present form although they have nothing against it in principle.

Ghatowar said once the consultation process was completed, the government would bring the bill to the business advisory committee of the Lok Sabha to fix a date when it can be passed.

Asked if the government decision to go for consultations was driven by worries over support to financial bills, Ghatowar said the “government is in a comfortable majority”.

“The Congress believes in consulting everybody. When they (political parties) are demanding consultations, the government is not shying away from it,” he said.

While the Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal and Lok Janshakti Party oppose the women’s bill as it exists, the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Left and Congress are all for it.