Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik seems to have taken another step forward towards realising his father Biju Parnaik’s dream of women empowerment by making it clear that the Odisha Assembly will have its first woman Speaker.
The timing of Naveen’s announcement that minister of revenue and disaster management Pramila Mallik will be his party Biju Janata Dal’s candidate for the Speaker’s post is significant.
He has sent out a message that the BJD is a champion of the women’s cause and works for it diligently while the BJP is only making so much noise on 33 per cent reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and state Assemblies, political pundits feel.
Pramila on Thursday resigned as minister of revenue and disaster management and is all set to become the Speaker of the Odisha Assembly on Friday.
Besides, giving 50 per cent reservation to women in the three-tier panchayati
raj system, making a woman as mayor of Bhubaneswar and sending at least seven women to Parliament (five to Lok Sabha and two to Rajya Sabha) the Naveen government sends a message that it’s concerned about woman empowerment, BJD leaders pointed out.
Pramila said: “The move is not aimed to counter the move of any political party. It was Biju Babu who was the first leader in the country to reserve 33 per cent seats for women in the three-tier panchayat system during his tenure as the chief minister between 1990 to 1995.”
Later, Naveen reserved 50 per cent of seats for women in the three-tier panchayati raj system in 2012.
Pramila said: “It’s chief minister Naveen Patnaik who had initiated steps to give 33 per cent reservation to women in the Lok Sabha and Assembly. It was five years back, Naveen Patnaik had urged all the chief ministers to accord 33 per cent reservations in the Assembly and Lok Sabha to women.
“Now the Centre has initiated steps in this regard. Our party is also focusing on women empowerment.”
In 2018, the Odisha Assembly passed a unanimous resolution to accord 33 per cent reservation for women in the Legislative Assembly and Parliament.
Later, Naveen tweeted: “Initiated historic motion in Odisha Assembly for 33 per cent reservation for women in Legislative Assembly and Parliament for a new Odisha to move forward with much greater momentum and with our mothers and daughters having a role in the highest decision making bodies in state and country.”
In 2020, Naveen announced to establish a dedicated department for women called the department of mission shakti. It is now a full-fledged department helping women in different ways.
Mayor, Bhubaneswar Sulochana Das told The Telegraph: “Naveen Babu
champions the cause of women. Around 70 lakh women are being provided livelihood opportunities through self-help groups under Mission Shakti. It has ushered in a new era of socio-economic development.
“From making a woman a mayor of Bhubaneswar city taking steps to elect a woman Speaker is a giant leap for the woman cause.”