The following is the speech made by Sharad Joshi of Swatantra Bharat Paksha in the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) before voting against the Women's Reservation bill, which seeks to make the 108th amendment to the Constitution. Thanks to RealityCheck blog for posting it.
SHRI SHARAD ANANTRAO JOSHI (MAHARASHTRA): Sir, I rise to speak on behalf of Swatantra Bharat Paksh Party. The position of my party can be very briefly summarised as follows: Political empowerment for women – a thumping yes, yes, yes. Reservation – a fairly big question mark. And, Rotation and lottery system – an absolute No, No, No.
It was in 1986 that the Shetakari Mahila Aghadi of my party, the Rural Women’s Organisation in Maharashtra, decided for the first time to have 100 per cent women’s panel for contesting the Panchayati Raj elections. It was the Congress (I) Party, under Shri Shankar Lal Chauhan in Maharashtra, who opposed that idea and postponed all elections to the Panchayati Raj for three years running. And it was only after that that they accepted the concept of 33 per cent reservation. Sir, hon. Mishra of the BSP raised the question: Where does this reservation come from? This is the genesis of 33 per cent.
Now, the question is: Has the reservation, actually, ever given benefit to any of the targeted communities? And our experience is not very happy. This problem could have easily been solved by a system of proportional representation rather than the Party List system. That would take care of the entire set of problems connected with reservation. And, the scenes that we have witnessed in the last two days could have also been avoided had we included proportional representation instead of the Party List system.
Lastly, coming to the lottery-cum-rotation system, this is not a minor defect. I still insist that this is a fatal defect in the system. Here, we choose a constituency first, and it is very likely that for that constituency, there may not be an enthusiastic woman candidate. On the other hand, it is likely that a man has nursed that constituency for some time.
This will unnecessarily create bitterness against the women’s movement. Sir, secondly, it is also likely that this opportunity will be used by established leaders for pushing the candidature of their family members which is not the purpose of this Bill at all. Sir, once a woman is elected, she would know that she does not stand a chance of getting the ‘woman reserved constituency’ again. Therefore, she would not be equally enthusiastic about nursing the constituency. Similarly, the men candidates who get elected would also have doubts about their letting to contest that election once again from the constituency because the chances that it will be available to them would be only 50:50. Under these circumstances, Sir, the major effect will be that all the constituencies will be badly nursed.
And, lastly, Sir, this kind of a reservation system will make it impossible for any House to have more than 33 per cent repeaters at any time. So, we will lack the experienced people in the Legislatures and the Parliament. That could prove to be fatal for the Indian Democracy. Thank you, Sir.