Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sushil Chandra on Saturday lamented the lack of representation of women in Parliament, saying there has been an increase in the number of women participating in the election process in recent years. He also expressed his concern over the time that is wasted in parliament due to disruptions and called it wrong for democracy.
Chandra had arrived at an event in Delhi to present the Sansad Ratna Award. While addressing the program, he said that there were 15 women MPs in the first Lok Sabha and there are 78 women in the 17th Lok Sabha. He said progress has been made, but improvements are still needed. “We need to make our Parliament very inclusive,” he said.
Chandra also said that our Constitution of India guarantees one-third reservation for women in local bodies. He stressed that many grassroots level women leaders have displayed their leadership qualities but we failed to take them forward with us and make them sit where they deserve.
On the issue of disruption in parliamentary proceedings, Chandra said vigorous debates and speeches are barometers of a strong Parliament, but frequent interruptions, walkouts and hunger strikes in the middle of parliamentary proceedings are not good for democracy.
He further added that the wastage of Parliament time due to disruptions has seen a dramatic increase in the last few years, so much so that some sessions have seen a complete “wash out”. He said that this does not bode well for a strong parliamentary democracy.
On the role of Parliamentary Standing Committees, he said that the committee meetings are not telecast, due to which, this panel is also used as a forum for building consensus among parties for controversial issues or controversial laws. However, the declining attendance of MPs in committee meetings is a matter of concern. He said that MPs should participate in these meetings in an enthusiastic and non-partisan manner.
On the participation of women in elections, she shared the data of the recently held assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Punjab and Manipur. He said that in four of the five states- Goa, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Uttar Pradesh the turnout of female voters is more than the male voter turnout and in Punjab, it is almost equal. The sex ratio has increased in all five states. Chandra said it has increased by 29 points in Uttar Pradesh alone.
Seeking to give details of the Indian electoral system, he said there were 17.3 crore voters in the country and when the first Lok Sabha elections were held in 1951, the turnout was around 45.6 per cent. During the 2019 parliamentary elections, the number of voters was around 912 crore and the voter turnout was the highest ever at 66.4 per cent.
Chandra said that as of date there are more than 953 crore voters, of which 49.04 crore are males and 46.09 crores are females.