New Delhi: A day ahead of her appearance before the Enforcement Directorate in the Delhi liquor scam, BRS leader K Kavitha on Friday commenced a six-hour hunger strike seeking early passage of the long-pending Women's Reservation Bill.
CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury inaugurated the strike programme at Jantar Mantar here.
Among leaders present at the strike were Samajwadi Party leader Seema Shukla, Telangana Education Minister Savita Indra Reddy as well as state Women and Child Welfare Minister Sathyavathi Rathore.
Sanjay Singh and Chitra Sarwara (AAP), Naresh Gujral (Akali Dal), Anjum Javed Mirza (PDP), Shami Firdous (NC), Sushmita Dev (TMC), KC Tyagi (JDU), Seema Malik (NCP), Narayana K (CPI), Shyam Rajak (RLD), Priyanka Chaturvedi (Shiva Sena) and ex-Congress leader Kapil Sibal have confirmed their participation.
"Our party will extend support to Kavitha in this protest till the bill is passed. It is important to bring this bill to give equal opportunity to women in politics," Yechury said in his inaugural address.
Kavitha said, "If India needs to develop, women should play a key role in politics. For which, it is important to bring this bill which is pending for last 27 years."
This is just the beginning and the protest will continue across the country, she added.
The bill, which seeks to reserve 33 per cent seats in Lok Sabha and all state legislative assemblies for women, was initially introduced in Lok Sabha on September 12, 1996 by the United Front government.
The Vajpayee government pushed for the bill in Lok Sabha but it still wasn't passed.
However, the UPA-I government, led by Congress, again introduced it in May 2008 and was passed in the Rajya Sabha but it was referred to a standing committee. In 2010, it was passed in the House and transmitted finally to the Lok Sabha. However, the bill lapsed with the 15th Lok Sabha. Since then, the bill has been lying in cold storage.
Kavitha, the daughter of Telangana Chief Minister M K Chandrasekhar Rao, had on Thursday said the bill has been lying in cold storage since 2010 and the Modi government has a historic opportunity to get it passed in Parliament before 2024.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised in both 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha polls that his government would bring this bill and that it was also part of the BJP's election manifesto.
None of the BJP leaders raised this issue and the Modi government has failed to get this bill passed in Parliament despite having a majority, she said, and added, "This is a very saddening issue."
Kavitha had also said the hunger strike was planned a week before but the ED summoned her to depose before it on March 9, just a day before the planned agitation. The agency agreed to her request to appear on March 11 after the agitation.
The BRS leader has been summoned by the ED in connection with a money laundering case linked to alleged irregularities in the excise policy. PTI