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Joshi sees smooth sail for women Bill

New Delhi, May 11: Speaker Manohar Joshi today said he is confident the women’s reservation Bill would yet sail through Parliament.

He has convened an all-party meeting on June 16 to thrash out a consensus on the legislation, either as it stands now or with some changes.

“I am confident the Bill would be passed in the Lok Sabha and we will certainly arrive at a consensus,” Joshi told reporters.

The Speaker, however, was candid enough to say he was not confident of resolving the issue at “just one meeting”. He hinted there might be more meetings as a consensus might elude parties on June 16.

His party, the Shiv Sena, had opposed the Bill, that seeks to reserve a third of seats in Parliament and Assemblies for women, when it was moved during the recently concluded budget session.

Joshi took the opportunity to explain the Sena’s position, saying the party was not opposed to the Bill but wanted to incorporate the Election Commission’s suggestions.

Political parties would arrive at a consensus on some modified form of the Bill, which would then be passed in Parliament, Joshi said. He, however, did not elaborate on the likely “changes”.

Some parties are seeking “reservation within the reservation” while some others are opposed to the Bill in its entirety.

Joshi has listed the proposals of various political parties, which include parties nominating women candidates to a third of seats they will contest and a “sub-quota” for women of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes and minorities within the one-third reservation.

Another is to slash the reservation to one-fifth, which means reserving 20 per cent of seats instead of the envisaged 33 per cent.

Joshi said he was “confident of (finding) a solution” to the current impasse. “The Bill has to be passed in this form or some modified form acceptable to all.”

Joshi said when he was Maharashtra chief minister in 1996, the Assembly had passed a resolution urging the Centre to pass the women’s reservation Bill.

Any amendment to the Constitution could not be passed in the manner other Bills could be, he said.

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