The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Words fly on women’s Bill

New Delhi, May 9: The women’s reservation Bill continued to hold centrestage as the budget session of Parliament came to an end today.

The BJP and the Opposition blamed each other for the House’s failure to pass the Bill earlier this week.

Parliamentary affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said the Congress and the CPM had put up an obstruction by opposing Speaker Manohar Joshi’s suggestion to physically evict unruly MPs trying to prevent the passage of the Bill.

“At the Speaker's meeting, Manohar Joshi suggested that the only way he could push through the Bill was by asking the marshalls to evict the opponents of the Bill. But Congress MP Shivraj Patil and CPM MP Somnath Chatterjee protested, saying it would not be correct procedure,” Swaraj said at a press conference.

The Opposition parties denied the charge and accused the Centre of playing a dual game. “I deny the charge. The Speaker did not refer to the issue (of evicting unruly MPs) at all,” said Congress spokesman Jaipal Reddy.

Chatterjee said “this government is playing a dubious role. It does not want to pass the Bill”.

The CPM demanded a joint session of Parliament on June 16 to push through the Bill, even without consensus. “The House should not be prorogued and a joint session of Parliament should be called on June 16 to pass the Bill,” Chatterjee said.

Swaraj said the Speaker will make another attempt to achieve a consensus on June 16. “The government will bring the Bill in the monsoon session of Parliament, beginning in July, if a consensus can be hammered out at a meeting of political parties convened by the Speaker on June 16,” she said.

Swaraj explained why the Centre was not pushing through the Bill in the face of opposition from only a few parties. “The women’s reservation Bill is a Constitution amendment Bill for which lobbies have to be cleared. Voting is required. The Bill cannot be passed by voice vote.”

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