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The BJP took a big leap towards women’s empowerment when its national executive green lighted the proposal to reserve 33% for them at all levels of the organisational hierarchy.

With the women’s reservation bill, which seeks to reserve 33% seats for women in the Lok Sabha and state legislatures, put on the back-burner because of serious differences among the political parties, the party was forced to take refuge in the next best step—-that of recommending significant changes in the party constitution to increase the representation of women at various levels of the decision-making process. The changes were suggested by a committee headed by the BJP’s deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha, Ms Sushma Swaraj, which submitted its report before the national executive. The panel was set up in June this year.

“There was a comprehensive discussion on the report at the national executive,” Mr Swaraj told newspersons here this afternoon, “We’re happy to announce that it was accepted unanimously by the gathering. The recommendations will now go to the party’s national council for effecting the necessary amendments in the party constitution and their ratification.”

Describing the development as “a historical initiative by the BJP,” she hoped that the step would be emulated by the other political parties in due course.

The BJP, she pointed out, already had provision for women’s reservation from the level of national executive down to local units, but its percentage had been pegged at 12-15%. “Since we already have such a provision, there will be no difficulty in enhancing its percentage to 33,” she said, adding, “For instance, in the 81-member national executive, there are at present 12 women. Their strength should be increased to 27, of which there should be two members each from among the SCs and STs.”

In states where the organisational elections had already been held, the panel recommended that the deficit in women’s representation should be bridged by adding a commensurate number of women to avoid heartburn among the elected male representatives. “In states where organisational elections are yet to completed, the exercise should be undertaken under the new arrangement,” Ms Swaraj said.

The committee recommended a similar exercise in the panel of party office-bearers at the various levels of organisational setup. “The president of the mahila morcha (women’s wing) of the unit concerned should be considered an ex-officio member of the election committee in that unit,” the BJP leader added.

The committee considered as “unpractical” the proposal to reserve for women the post of president at the levels of state, district and mandal, but exhorted the male workers at these levels to entrust these responsibilities to women.

While making these recommendations, the committee lauded the BJP’s track-record in women’s empowerment, describing it as much better than those of the other political outfits, and cited statistics to buttress its contention. It took a dig at the Left parties. “Till a year ago, there was no female representative in the CPM’s top decisionmaking body, the politburo. The party has no woman CM yet. ,” the BJP leader claimed.

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