IANS Interview: BJP taking credit for women’s reservation, says former Union Law Minister

Panaji: Accusing the BJP of taking credit for the ’33 per cent reservation for women’, former Union Law Minister Ramakant Khalap said that it is copied ‘word for word’ from the Bill he had introduced three decades ago.

“But certainly I feel proud that my Bill has been adopted by this government and my work has been acknowledged. I am so happy,” said advocate Khalap.

In an interview with IANS, Khalap, who is contesting the Lok Sabha elections from North Goa on a Congress ticket, said that change has to happen in a democracy.

Then MGP candidate Khalap was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1996, defeating Congress’ Amrut Kansar. In 1999, he contested on a Congress ticket but lost to the BJP’s Shripad Naik. Now, 25 years later, both the senior politicians from Goa are again contesting against each other.

Khalap was elected as an MLA to the Goa Legislative Assembly at the age of 26, before winning five more Assembly polls. After he lost the Lok Sabha elections in 1999, he engaged himself in social work.

“I engaged myself with many organisations and also wrote dozens of books in English and Marathi. All these years, I remained in touch with my constituents,” he said.

In 2009, he became the Chairman of the Goa Law Commission during the Digambar Kamat government. He remained in this position till 2012.

“The BJP knows that there is a wave against the party and hence it tried to take credit for the Women’s Reservation Bill. They are trying to take my credit, as it was introduced by me when I was the Law Minister. They have copied word for word from my original Bill. You can check it. I am thankful to some MPs who brought it to the notice of the House,” Khalap said.

Reacting to Chief Minister Pramod Sawant’s claim that BJP is the ‘real secular’ party, Khalap said that people of the nation know who is secular.

“People know us and also the BJP. What made them say they are secular at the time of the elections? We have protected the secularism written in our Constitution. The word ‘secular’ was added to the Constitution (42nd Amendment) Bill, 1976, by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi,” Khalap said.

Khalap also said that he has many positive things to show that will take him to victory.

“I made a lot of contributions in North Goa. Our manifesto will also benefit the people of Goa,” Khalap said.

The veteran politician also said that there is a need to create a land bank for the next generation in Goa.

“If our people staying abroad with their children decide to come back, will they get a piece of land to construct a house? No. Hence I am proposing that a land bank be created,” he said.

He also claimed that the current North Goa MP and Union Minister Shripad Naik has failed to raise the burning issues of the state in the Lok Sabha.

“He (Naik) is my good friend. But he should have raised the issue of Mhadei in the Lok Sabha,” Khalap said.

He also rejected the allegations levelled against him in the matter of ‘bankruptcy’ of a cooperative bank that he earlier headed.

“The allegations are baseless. The then BJP government had failed to save the cooperative bank. I had offered many solutions like mergers and others to save the bank, but the government didn’t pay heed,” Khalap said.

To recall, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant recently said in a press conference that “these files can be opened”.

“The files are with the central RCS, and they can be opened. I am not giving threats to anyone, we don’t have such a habit,” Sawant had said.


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