National Convention on Women Reservation Bill
THE ALL INDIA MILLI COUNCIL, THE INDIAN ASSOCIATION OF MUSLIM SOCIAL SCIENTISTS, THE MUSLIM WOMEN’S WELFARE ORGANISATION, THE INSAN DOST COMMITTEE, THE PEOPLES’ MOVEMENT OF INDIA, THE DR B.R. AMBEDKAR SEWA DAL AND THE SAMAJIC NIYAY MORCHA HELD AT THE GHALIB ACADEMY, NEW DELHI ON 27.6.2009
New Delhi, June 27: Representatives of Muslim, Dalit, women’s and other underprivileged classes organisations here today decided to oppose the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill in its present form.
The organisations that announced this decision at a convention included All India Milli Council, Insan Dost Council, People’s Movement of India, Dr BR Ambedkar Sewa Dal, Muslim Women’s Welfare Organisation, Samajik Nyay Morcha and Indian Association of Muslim Social Scientists.
The delegates feared that if the Bill was passed in its present form, it would further disempower the classes under-represented in Parliament and state legislatures.
Muslims generally felt that as of now they were under-represented by 50 percent. Lok Sabha which, from the point of view of Muslim population should have 73 members, has only 32 Muslims. State legislatures, too, have about 50 percent representation of Muslims compared to their actual numbers. The delegates feared that because of their economic and political clout the upper classes would get even higher representation through their women at the cost of Dalits and minorities, particularly Muslims.
Talking about under-presentation, Mr Digant Oza of the People’s Movement of India, who is also a former editor of the Gujarati version of the Indian Express said that although Gujarat’s Muslims constituted 12 percent of the population, the state did not have a single Lok Sabha member.
Human rights activist Prof Iqbal Ansari said that if the present Bill was passed “without due consideration and accommodation of under-represented classes like Dalits, tribals and minorities, their representation in Parliament and state legislatures is sure to decline”. He cited several models from Mauritius, Japan and European countries that are devised to accommodate the under-represented classes.
Representatives from major Muslim organisations like Jamiatul Ulema-e-Hind (Arshad Madni group), Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawrat and Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadees endorsed the decision of the convention.
Sikh leaders Gurucharan Singh Babbar, Dr Sindhu and Christian leader Father Emanuel Dominic also endorsed the decision to oppose the Bill in its present form.
Virtually every speaker made it clear that they were not opposing the Bill because of gender, but because of class considerations. They would support it once it made a provision for quota within quota, providing reservation for Dalits and minorities.
Milli Council General Secretary Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam said a movement for this purpose would be launched in the days to come. He said even with the clear assurance of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Ballabhbhai Patel Muslims had remained under-represented in not only legislatures but in all walks of life for six decades. He said it was not just a matter of political representation, but of representation across the board.
Journalist and former MP Santosh Bhartiya observed that the under-privileged classes should not rely on assurances of fair-play, but seek proper legal and constitutional guarantees.
Milli Council president Maulana Abdullah Mughaisi said in his presidential address that Women’s Bill should be made more representative and inclusive before rushing it through Parliament.
The convention passed a number of resolutions to this effect.