Rajya Sabha passes Women's Reservation Bill

The Rajya Sabha on Tuesday evening passed the women's reservation bill reserving one-third seats for women in parliament and state legislatures. It took the house two days, nine disruptions and the eviction of seven MPs to achieve this.


The legislation is likely to be brought to the Lok Sabha after the vote-on-account has been passed, with the Congress leadership showing that it was not deterred by the bigger strength of the quota opponents in the lower House. It has to be brought to the LS as a logical corollary, said Sonia Gan-dhi although she refused to get into the specifics of the likely time-table.


There were 186 votes in favour of the bill and one against. In the 245-member House with an effective strength of 233, the bill required the backing of at least 155 members and the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) managed enough support for the legislation.


The Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Left Front, the AIADMK and the Telugu Desam Party voted for the bill. The two MPs of the Trinamool Congress, the government’s second biggest ally, abstained from voting. Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) MPs abstained too, claiming that the bill didn’t address their demands.


The Janata Dal (United), whose chief Sharad Yadav is an opponent of the bill, was split over the bill when it came to voting. Most of its seven members voted for the bill in response to the call given senior party leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.


Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who intervened in the discussion, described the occasion as a "momentous" and the legislation a "historic and great" step in the empowerment of women.

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