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Unforgettable Geeta Mukherjee – 1st MP to move Private Bill on Women’s Reservation in 1996

As India rejoices over the tabling of the Women’s Reservation Bill in Parliament, the story of the soft-spoken, low-profile lady from West Bengal remains unsung.

Late Geeta Mukherjee, the seven-time CPI Lok Sabha member from Panskura Constituency (now non-existent because of delimitation) from the-then undivided Midnapore district of West Bengal, was the first MP to table a
Private Member’s Bill on the floor of the Parliament demanding 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliamentary and Legislative berths way back in September 1996.

She moved the Private Member’s Bill on September 12, 1996 on the floor of the House. That was the beginning and 27 years after that historic day the bill was introduced on September 19 in the name and style of Nari Shakti Vandana Adhiniyam.

Recalls veterans knowing Geeta Mukherjee from close quarters, including this correspondent (as a cub-reporter then), on how sincere she was about women empowerment and firmly believed that that empowerment would not be
achieved unless there is a reservation for women in Parliamentary and Legislative berths.

“It is high time that the women get their due recognition in society building and they voice their rights on the Parliamentary and legislative floors backed by adequate numerical strength,” often said Mukherjee, extremely popular both among her party comrades and mediapersons as ‘Geeta-di’.

The younger sister of legendary Indian Parliamentarian and former Union home minister Late Indrajit Gupta and the wife of the iconic Indian communist Late Biswanath Mukherjee, she was known for her extremely humble lifestyle without making an orchestrated propaganda of it. She preferred travelling in ordinary three-tier sleeper class while commuting between New Delhi and Howrah till the end of her life on March 4, 2000.

An extremely soft-spoken and low-profile Geeta Mukherjee was a seven-time Lok Sabha member from Panskura constituency in the-then undivided Midnapore district from 1980 to 2000. Last time she was elected from that constituency was in 1999.

However, she could not complete the tenure because of her sudden demise on March 4, 2000.  As a Parliamentarian, her constitutions as member of the Parliamentary committee on public undertakings, committee on the welfare of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and Joint Committee on Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 1980 is remembered with reverence.

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