connect with congress
Shri Manish Tewari addressed the media today.
Shri Manish Tewari said that the commitment of the Congress party to the cause of empowerment of women has been both historic and consistent. Commencing with the Hindu Succession Act in 1956 which was amended in 2005 to further strengthen the Property Rights of Women to the Dowry Prohibition Act in 1961 to the Maternity Benefit Act of 1961 again to the Equal Employment Opportunities Act of 1972 amended and strengthened in 1995, the Indecent Representation of Women Prohibition Act 1987, Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act in 2005, the 73rd and 74th amendment to the Constitution in 1993 which gave 33% reservation to women and institutions of local self government which was raised to 50% in 2008 and now the historic passage of the Women's Reservation Bill in the Rajya Sabha yesterday, the effort all throughout these years has been to build a set of legal entitlements which would empower women in the true sense across the board.
Shri Tewari said that he would like to thank all of you friends in the media who acknowledged the personal stamp of the Hon'ble Congress President Smt. Sonia Gandhi on the Women's Reservation Bill and we would also like to thank all those political parties who supported this historic endeavor yesterday.
On the question whether the Congress party feels let down by Mamata Banerjee boycotting, Shri Tewari said that he would not like to characterize it in the language of a let down but as it was pointed out the Railway Minister was present in the Cabinet meeting in which this Bill was cleared. What are the circumstances which made her take the position that she did yesterday, I think an appropriate interlocution on that is in the process and I would not like to second guess it but I do hope that since she in addition to being among the tallest leaders in West Bengal is also a very respected leader across the country in the larger interest of women empowerment, she would reconsider her position and constructively support a cause which is both historic and revolutionary in various senses of world.
On the question that Mamata Banerjee allegation against the Congress party about the absence of coordination in the voting, Shri Tewari said that he is not going to comment on the merits of whatever the Railway Minister has said but he would like to reiterate and underscore that there is a larger picture out here, things have to be seen in a larger perspective keeping the objective of women empowerment in mind and I do hope that the Railway Minister and TMC would reconsider their position and come out strongly and proactively in support of the Bill.
On a question as to when this Bill is going to be tabled in the Lok Sabha, Shri Tewari said that is the decision which the Government has to take and he thinks Government would possibly consult amongst itself and depending upon the legislate of calendar, they would find a slot to then table it.
On the further question of Mamata Banerjee allegation of hobnobbing with the Left and the BJP and she wants quota for minority within the sub quota, Shri Tewari said that there is no question of hobnobbing with anybody. The commitment of the UPA and the Congress party is under scored by the fact that in 2008 we brought the Bill to Rajya Sabha despite it being torn to shreds by the opponents and it went to the Standing Committee. In the Standing Committee it was unanimously cleared except for one note of dissent given by the Samajwadi Party, it came back to the House and the UPA Government then got it passed. Shri Tewari said that he does not think that in any way this could be construed as hobnobbing and further said that it is only consistent with our commitment to the cause of women empowerment and insofar as coordination is concerned Shri Tewari said that once the bill went to the Cabinet, it was obvious to every body who was participant in that meeting that the Bill would go to the House and the Bill was presented to the House. So, therefore once again reiterating that he does not want to comment on the merits of the statement, we do hope that the TMC would keep the larger picture in mind and proactively take their decision.
Shri Tewari further said that the demand for quota within the quota is not new. It is something which has been repeatedly articulated ever since this Bill was first brought before the Parliament in 1996. There is a very clear constitutional position on that. So, therefore, he thinks it would be appropriate that this Bill should be passed in the form in which it has been scrutinized by the Standing Committee, referred to Rajya Sabha and passed in the Rajya Sabha.
On the question whether the Congress party will take any action against one Minister who did not vote for the motion, Shri Tewari said that the question is not taking any action but the question is this country is at the threshold of making history, this is for the individual to decide whether to participate in that historic process or not. Shri Tewari hoped that the political workers / persons do not miss such opportunities.
On a related question of the total percentage covered under this Bill, Shri Tewari said that this Bill provides for 1/3rd of the seats reserved for SC and STs to go to women from the same communities and then there is a larger reservation which is outside in the rest of the seats. Shri Tewari further added that if you look at the entirety, you would find that it is not going to violate 50% ceiling.
On the question over the statement of the BJP party for the revocation of the suspension of the members from the Rajya Sabha and that the marshals should not be used in Lok Sabha, Shri Tewari said that the motion was taken up by the Government but the decision was of the Chair of the House. Shri Tewari further added that the Government will have to take a view on this. Insofar as the Congress party is concerned, we have made our stand clear that violence, anarchy in democratic institutions especially apex institutions undermine their credibility and this is no way to conduct a discourse. For one and a half day you saw a handful of people trying to subvert the will of majority and further said that is not democracy by any such stretch of imagination.