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Women's Reservation Bill: BRS leader Kavitha's day-long hunger strike begins in Delhi

Congress skips the protest

K Kavitha BRS leader K. Kavitha during a hunger strike seeking early passage of the Women's Reservation Bill, at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi| PTI

A day ahead of Enforcement Directorate (ED) questioning, BRS leader K. Kavitha launched her day-long hunger strike at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi on Friday, seeking introduction of the Women's Reservation Bill in Parliament. The strike was inaugurated by CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury.

Kavitha, daughter of Telangana chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, faces the heat from the ED as she has been summoned by the agency relating to the alleged irregularities in the Delhi excise policy case. She is set to appear before the ED on March 11 for questioning.

In a political show of strength, around 18 parties including Shiv Sena has confirmed the participation in the programme. Opposition leaders including Shyam Rajak (RJD), Seema Shukla (SP), Sanjay Singh and Chitra Sarwara (AAP), Naresh Gujral (Akali Dal), Anjum Javed Mirza (PDP), Shami Firdous (NC), Sushmita Dev (TMC), K.C. Tyagi (JDU), Seema Malik (NCP), Narayana K. (CPI), Shyam Rajak (RLD), Priyanka Chaturvedi (Shiva Sena) and ex-Congress leader Kapil Sibal confirmed their participation in the strike.

NCP spokesperson, Telangana Education Minister Sabitha Indra Reddy as well as state Women and Child Welfare Minister Satyavathi Rathod and women leaders from Andhra Pradesh were also present.

"We have come here to assure that our party will extend support to Kavitha in this protest till the bill is passed in Parliament. It is important to bring this bill to give equal opportunity to women in politics," said Yechury.

"If India needs to develop at a speed the world is developing, women should play a key role in politics. Women should get more representation in politics for which it is important to bring this bill that is pending for the last 27 years," said Kavitha.

“The hunger strike will be held by her NGO Bharat Jagriti, and all political parties have been invited to join it. Around 18 parties, including Shiv Sena, has confirmed participation,” Kavitha had said. 

"About 500-600 members will sit on a hunger strike, but the attendance will be more. Over 6,000 people and 18 political parties have confirmed participation," Kavitha said while addressing the media on Thursday.

The bill seeks to reserve 33 per cent seats in Lok Sabha and all state legislative assemblies for women. The bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in May 2008 and was referred to a standing committee. In 2010, it was passed in the House and transmitted finally to the Lok Sabha. However, the bill lapsed with the 15th Lok Sabha.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised in both 2014, and 2019 Lok Sabha polls that his government would bring introduce the bill in the Parliament but so far it has not been floored. It was also part of the BJP's election manifesto, she added.

None of the BJP leaders raised this issue and the Modi government has failed to get this bill passed in Parliament despite having a majority, she said, and added, "This is very saddening issue."

The world is progressing only by taking women on equal footing with men. This unfortunately has not happened in India, she added.

"I want to urge PM, all political leaders and especially President Droupadi Murmu and request the Government of India that it still has an opportunity as two more Parliament sessions are there (before the next election for passage of this bill)," she said.

The Modi government, if it wishes, can get the Women's Reservation Bill passed just like the Aadhaar Bill which was passed by it as a financial bill and by bypassing the Rajya Sabha, she added.

Further, Kavitha said that India is at the 148th place among 193 countries in terms of women's representation. There are only 78 women members out of 543 in Parliament, which is 14.4 per cent.

(With PTI inputs) 


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