NEW DELHI: Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Tuesday sought to give credit to his party for the women's reservation bill but Home Minister Amit Shah refuted his claim, saying that the legislation brought by the Manmohan Singh government had lapsed following the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha.
The government introduced a constitutional amendment bill to reserve one-third of seats in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies for women, reviving a bill pending for 27 years for want of consensus among parties.
Speaking in the first session of the Lok Sabha in the new Parliament building, Chowdhury said a women's reservation bill was first brought in 1989 by the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi to ensure one-third reservation in local body elections.
"Since then, the Congress has been trying to bring law to ensure one-third reservation to women in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies," Chowdhury said.
He said the governments under Rajiv Gandhi, Narasimha Rao, and Manmohan Singh tried to pass the bill for providing reservation of one-third seats to women candidates.
At times, it got passed in the Lok Sabha, but could not be cleared by the Rajya Sabha and vice versa, the Congress leader said.
"The bill that came during Manmohan Singh's tenure was passed by the Rajya Sabha and hence is still alive. The CWC (Congress Working Committee) resolution has spoken about this. Even Sonia Gandhi has written to Prime Minister (Narendra Modi). We reiterate our demand for women's reservation bill," Chowdhury said.
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Countering the claims of the Congress leader, Shah said Chowdhury has made two factually incorrect statements and he should provide documents to validate his claims or withdraw his statement.
The home minister said that the women's reservation bill was never passed by the Lok Sabha.
Secondly, the old bill is not pending in the Lok Sabha as with the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha in 2014, the bill has lapsed, he said.
"What Adhir Ji said is factually incorrect. The old bill has lapsed. If he has any supporting document to prove what he said he should table it in the Lok Sabha or withdraw his statement," he said.
Shah also asked Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to remove the statement from record if Chowdhury is unable to provide supporting documents.
Later, Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal introduced the constitutional amendment bill, Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam, to reserve one-third of the seats in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies for women.
Speaking on the bill, Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal said the number of women members in the 543-member Lok Sabha will rise to 181, from 82 currently, after the law comes into force.
Giving history of the women's reservation bill, Meghwal said first time the bill was brought in September 1996 by the Deve Gowda government in the 11th Lok Sabha.
Then in December 1998 and December 1999 in the 12th and 13th Lok Sabha respectively under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government.
In May 2008, the Manmohan Singh government brought the bill in the Rajya Sabha.
It was then referred to Standing Committee and then in March 2010 it was passed by the Rajya Sabha.
Then it was reported to the Lok Sabha and became a property of the Lok Sabha, he said.
With the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha on May 18, 2014, this bill lapsed, Meghwal said, adding the Congress-led government at that time deliberately did not pass the bill.
Earlier, speaking in the Lok Sabha, Chowdhury also questioned why the House did not have any deputy speaker.