Left presses for women's bill, but uncertainty continues
New Delhi, Dec 13 (IANS) The Left parties Wednesday disrupted Lok Sabha proceedings demanding the introduction of the long-pending women's reservation bill, forcing an abrupt adjournment of the house, even as the future of the bill to provide quotas for women in parliament and legislative bodies remained uncertain.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left Front, which supports Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government from outside, asked the ruling coalition to fulfil its promise to enact legislation on the subject.
However, the government, which refused to respond initially, gave no indication that it would bring the bill - which was first introduced in 1997 but lapsed - in this winter session.
"Whatever promises we have made, they would be complied before our term ends," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi said, indicating that the bill might not be introduced in the current session as promised by Manmohan Singh himself.
The prime minister had promised - more than once - that the government would bring the bill in this session, which ends Dec 19.
Raising the issue, C.S. Sujatha of CPI-M pointed out that the legislation that ensures one-third of seats for women in parliament and legislative bodies was one of the major assurances that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) gave when it took charge in 2004.
"Two and a half years have passed. Nothing has happened. The prime minister and the UPA chairperson (Sonia Gandhi) had given many assurances that it would be brought in this session," said Sujatha.
As other Left MPs joined her in putting pressure on the government to give a response, the house plunged into pandemonium. The Left MPs refused to take their seats despite repeated pleas from Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, who then adjourned the house for 10 minutes.
When the house met again the MPs insisted that the government should respond to the demand even as Dasmunsi said the government would fulfil its promises before its term ends.
The Left parties later said they would observe a 24-hours strike Thursday to demand immediate legislation on women's quota apart from other issues.