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Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu today said that all parties should reach a consensus to clear the long-pending Women's Reservation Bill. The bill seeks to provide 33 per cent reservation to women in Parliament and state legislatures. At a state-level convention of women's self-help groups (SHGs) here , Naidu said, "Women are given reservation in local government bodies. Efforts are on for women's reservation in Parliament. I personally support it (Women Reservation Bill)." He said, "I hope all political parties reach a consensus so that women can be given reservation in state legislatures, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. This issue should not be given a political hue," he added. Naidu said that when women were given reservation in panchayats, many had claimed that it was the woman's husband who was actually ruling. "However, a change is being witnessed.
Women would soon learn to fight for their rights," he said, noting there should be change in the law as well in the mindset. Stressing that women's empowerment could create a new India, he said the focus should be on the "Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao" programme. He also said that there should be no discrimination between a son and a daughter and that ancestral or family property should be equally distributed. "Our country is known as Bharat Mata. In our ancient scriptures, we find that education minister was goddess Saraswati, defence minister was Durga Devi and finance minister was Laxmi Devi," he said, adding that something went wrong during the colonial rule. Stating that women showed their abilities when given an opportunity, he gave the example of India having women as defence minister, foreign minister and Lok Sabha Speaker. Naidu also took potshots at those who opposed the Centre's Jan-Dhan Yojana, saying that after November 2016, the people learnt its importance. "Many people urged their domestic helps, drivers to stash money, hidden in bedrooms and bathrooms, in Jan-Dhan bank accounts. The money reached the banks," he said. Earlier, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced several sops for women's SHGs. He said these groups would be exempted from stamp duty on loan documentation as well as get a three per cent rebate on interest. Chouhan said that the state government would open markets for them in all cities and also rent space in major shopping malls to provide selling space for these SHGs. He said that federations comprising a group of SHGs could seek loans of upto Rs 5 crore backed by the government's guarantee. Praising their work, Chouhan said that soaps produced by these SHGs were better than the ones made by noted international brands. The convention is being attended by SHGs from across the state.