BHUBANESWAR: In a move that will bring gender parity in politics and socio-economic development of women, the Odisha Assembly on Tuesday passed a unanimous resolution seeking approval of the Centre for making provision for one-third reservation in the State legislature.
Opposition Congress and BJP though supported the resolution, dubbed it as politically motivated saying the ruling BJD wanted to draw political mileage ahead of next elections to the Assembly and Parliament.
Moving the motion, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said, “Empowerment of women is very close to my heart. No household, no society, no state, no country has ever moved forward without empowering its women.”
Citing the leadership qualities of two tribal women, Mamata Padhaimi, a Koya tribal girl from far away Malkangiri district who motivated the Chief Minister to enhance the ceiling for medical coverage for women under Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana and Jayanthi Ekka, a physically challenged grassroots entrepreneur from Sundargarh, the Chief Minister said their courage and conviction have inspired all of the State.
“From Malkangiri to Sundargarh, we witness the new Odisha. An Odisha with lakhs of Mamata Padhiamis and Jayanti Ekkas. This bold, aspirational and new Odisha has voices - voices which must be heard across panchayats, Legislative Assembly and the Parliament,” the Chief Minister said while initiating the debate on the resolution.
Asserting that his government has taken many initiatives that have brought about a movement transforming the lives of millions of women, the Chief Minister said Odisha must show its commitment and resolve to the entire country that it is the land where women are truly empowered and truly involved in nation-building.
Making an appeal to all lawmakers to extend their support to the resolution, the Chief Minister recalled the revolutionary steps taken by his father and former Chief Minister Biju Patnaik in 1992 by bringing women to the realm of political decision-making by providing 33 per cent reservation for them in local bodies.
“The principle of gender equality is enshrined in our Constitution. Biju Babu was the true champion of women empowerment,” he said and added that his government has further enhanced it to 50 per cent. Coming down heavily on the State Government for the increasing atrocities on women, Congress chief whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati and leader of BJP legislature party KV Singhdeo questioned the belated move of the ruling party.
“The Chief Minister moved the resolution in the fag end of his government’s current term purely keeping the coming elections in mind. But the people see through his game plan,” Bahinipati remarked.
Extending his party’s support to the resolution, Singhdeo said the Chief Minister is trying to fool the people in general and the women in particular by taking the initiative in the last year of his government’s tenure.