Agartala, Sept. 18: Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, who arrived here today, called for higher representation for women in all legislatures and their empowerment.
Speaking at the golden jubilee celebrations of the Tripura Assembly at the Town Hall here, she said, “Half of the humanity comprises women and half of Indians are women. In the present Lok Sabha, we have 61 women members, which is only 11 per cent of the total membership of the House. In your 60-member Assembly, you have only five women and this is only 8 per cent. Women must have higher representation in all the legislatures.”
The Speaker, however, appreciated the 50 per cent reservation given to women in panchayats, nagar panchayats and village committees under the ADC area in Tripura.
“It is a matter of great joy that Tripura has done this because representation in elected bodies leads to empowerment of women,” she said.
She also appreciated the high polling percentages in Tripura in successive elections and the higher participation of women in voting, describing it as “eloquent testimony” to the democratic consciousness of the people of Tripura.
“I am aware that in the Assembly elections of 2008 and 2013 in your state more than 91 per cent people have cast votes and women outnumbered men in voting. This certainly proves the high level of political and democratic consciousness of the people,” she said.
She, however, did not conceal her disappointment over the non-functioning of legislatures, especially the Lok Sabha, because of obstructionist tactics adopted by the Opposition and said non-functioning of legislatures was a betrayal of the people’s trust.
“The people are actually sovereigns in a democratic polity and legislatures deal with urgent matters concerning peoples interest. Unless the Lok Sabha or Assemblies are allowed to function properly, peoples interests get adversely affected,” she said.
She also called for action by Speakers under appropriate rules of procedure against members who try to disrupt functioning of the Houses.
“During the monsoon session of the Lok Sabha, I had to apply the provisions under Section 374, comprising rules of procedure and conduct of business in the Lok Sabha against some members. But this can be done only in extreme situations and all elected members must self-introspect about their conduct,” she said.
She asserted that people’s aspirations have grown by leaps and bounds in the country’s democratic political culture and elected representatives have to respect this.
She referred to Tripura’s political evolution from a category “C” state in 1949 to a full-fledged state with effect from January 21, 1972 and said the roots of democracy have been embedded in the state.
She also appreciated the high rate of literacy in the state and said she had been apprised that it currently has the highest literacy rate in the entire country.
“Even in the census of 2011, Tripura had achieved a literacy rate of 87.75 per cent and women literacy at 83.55 per cent, which was much higher than national average. But now, having achieved a higher level of literacy you can only move ahead,” the Speaker said.
She arrived here, accompanied by her son and daughter-in-law from Delhi and was received at the airport by chief minister Manik Sarkar and his cabinet colleagues, Speaker Ramendra Chandra Debnath, deputy Speaker Pabitra Kar. She will visit Tripureswari temple in Udaipur, headquarters of Gomati district, 55km f rom here, tomorrow before leaving for Delhi in the evening.