Women hold the fort in Gujarat assembly

Gandhinagar, March 8 (IANS) International Women’s Day on Tuesday saw a true all-women affair in the Gujarat assembly as the house was allowed to be conducted for the day by a woman member from the speaker’s panel.

The proceedings were dominated by women legislators cutting across party lines as male members sat quietly.

The administrative and clerical work of the assembly too was entrusted to women employees. Even the job of ringing the bell to announce the start of the sitting was given to a woman peon.

In the house, Speaker Ganpat Vasava took a back seat and called in senior Bharatiya Janata Party legislator Neemaben Acharya to occupy his chair for the most part of the day.

The women members, numbering 15 in the 182-seat house, were given priority in raising questions or taking part in the debate as the male MLAs watched.

In an unusual scene, women members profusely praised each other irrespective of their party affiliations.

Putting aside all political differences, Congress legislator Tejashri Patel, who otherwise never misses an opportunity to flay the BJP and its government, applauded the steps taken by the state’s first woman Chief Minister Anandiben Patel for the empowerment of women.

She appreciated the initiative taken by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan in organising a national two-day convention of women legislators and parliamentarians in Delhi.

The Congress leader said the way Anandiben had impressed everyone at the convention by enumerating the steps taken by her government for women empowerment was highly praiseworthy.

Soon after taking over as the chief minister from Narendra Modi after he became the prime minister, Anandiben had piloted a legislation enhancing reservation for women in local self-government bodies in the state to 50 percent.

The local body elections in December last year were conducted under the new law that gave half the seats to women members.

Tejashri said the government should take the initiative to get elected Neema Acharya as the assembly speaker instead of for the day only.

She said that the deputy speaker too should be a woman, that too from the opposition benches as per the tradition.

Anandiben later attended a gathering of women policemen at the police academy at Karai on the outskirts of Ahmedabad.

Addressing the gathering, she said that before becoming a teacher, she actually wanted to join police.

The chief minister said she had applied for a police job but was not selected after which she took to teaching as her profession. She later came into politics.

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