The Odisha Assembly on Tuesday passed by a voice vote a resolution moved by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik seeking 33% reservation for women in Legislative Assemblies and Parliament. The chief minister said that the state must show its commitment to prove that it truly supports women’s empowerment.
Calling it a “historic motion”, Patnaik said the cause is a major priority for him. “No household, no society, no state, no country has ever moved forward without empowering its women,” he said.
“I appealed for support and the unanimous adoption of the resolution,” Patnaik tweeted. “Odisha must show its commitment that it is the land where women are truly empowered and truly involved in nation-building.”
The chief minister praised his administration’s initiatives to improve education, finance and health opportunities for women and girls in the state. He also praised his father and former Chief Minister Biju Patnaik for introducing a provision for 33% reservation for women in the three-tier Panchayati Raj system and urban local bodies in 1992.
“I am confident that the mothers and sisters who run their household so efficiently will run the panchayat samiti and zilla parishad with equal competence,” Naveen Patnaik quoted his father as saying. The Odisha chief minister said women’s representation in local bodies in the state had risen to much more than 50% now.
However, only 12 of the 147 legislators in the Odisha Assembly are women, PTI reported.
The Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party’s legislature party leader KV Singdeo, MLAs Pradip Purohit and Rabi Naik expressed doubts over the state government’s motive in bringing the resolution. Congress chief whip Taraprasad Bahinipati called it a political strategy of the Biju Janata Dal government ahead of the 2019 General Elections.
A bill seeking to reserve 33% seats in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies for women is pending in the Parliament. The Rajya Sabha had passed the bill in 2010. In July, Congress President Rahul Gandhi had urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure the passage of the bill in the Lok Sabha as well.
Of the 543 legislators elected in the 2014 general elections, only 62 were women, according to PRS Legislative. This is marginally higher than the 58 women who were elected to the 15th Lok Sabha in 2009.