As part of the ‘Call your MP’ campaign, 500 callers participated to call 373 MPs across the country, out of which 128 answered.

126 MPs say they support Womens Reservation Bill Political collective Shakti
news Women's Reservation Bill Friday, December 28, 2018 - 20:39

Shakti, a non-partisan collective to enable women in politics, had called for a campaign ‘Call your MP’ earlier this week. The idea was for people to participate and call their Members of Parliament and ask them to table and pass the Women’s Reservation Bill (WRB), which aims to reserve seats for women in Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies.

In a media release, Shakti called the campaign, which took place between 7 and 9.30 pm on Thursday, a “stupendous success”. While 500 callers participated to call 373 MPs, 128 of them answered. Of these, 126 said they supported the Women’s Reservation Bill, which, though passed in the Rajya Sabha in 2010, lapsed in the 15th Lok Sabha.

These 500 callers included farmers, women in corporations, rape survivors, students, women in IT, rehabilitated manual scavengers, women in media, bankers, trainers, researchers, civil society activists, domestic workers, advertising professionals, entrepreneurs and so on. MPs from 21 states across the country like Jammu & Kashmir, Tamil Nadu, Assam and Gujarat, including Lakshadweep were called.

“In the short span of 2.5 hours, the Shakti - Call Your MP campaign called 373 Lok Sabha MPs, of which 128 MPs answered. 126 of the 128 MPs said they support the Bill and will try to raise it in Parliament this Winter Session. More numbers are still flowing in from volunteer callers across the country. Some mentioned that while they support it, it is up to their parties to decide to table the Bill. Many MPs were called by multiple callers; 258 MPs did not pick up the phone or were not reachable. A few MPs had the courtesy to call back when they missed the call, and some had lengthy conversations,” Shakti said.

Tara Krishnaswamy, the co-founder of Shakti called the campaign “a landmark India-wide effort for women's political rights”.

“It is a thumping success to hear MPs who represent the voices of a whopping 192 million people of India say YES to the Women's Reservation Bill (16 lakh voters per constituency.) This includes MPs from 23 major political parties other than the BJP supporting the Bill. Many non-BJP MPs including from state parties mentioned that they have been raising the Women's Reservation Bill in the Lok Sabha, including on December 27, but that they were not permitted by the House to discuss it. What is stopping the ruling party from passing the Bill when the most complicated Aadhaar, GST & controversial Instant Triple Talaq have been passed? We hope that the 126 MPs will discuss with each other and aggregate the demand in the House. With time running out, Shakti will continue to ramp up this campaign until women get their political due," Tara said.

Shakti also provided responses of some of the MPs who responded to the callers.

PK Sreemathi, MP from Kerala CPI(M) said, "We planned to organise a protest in Lok Sabha on the WRB tomorrow or the day after."

BJP MP and spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi not only agreed with the demand to pass the WRB but also said, "We should persuade for 33% seats for women within political parties." She was called by Archana Jha of Centre for Social Research, a partner in the Shakti: Call Your MP campaign.

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