Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar’s attempt to reach a consensus on the Women’s Reservation Bill came a cropper with political parties supporting Congress-led UPA Government like Samajwadi Party , RJD and BSP opposing the legislation.
While RJD chief Lalu Prasad warned of a “Mahabharata” if the government forced the bill in its present form, Samajwadi Party’s Mulayam Singh Yadav saw it as a “conspiracy” to finish the present leadership hailing from backward castes.
At the meeting, Lalu Prasad said that it is the government’s job to call a meeting and develop a consensus.
“Why are you being drawn into the controversy?” Lalu Prasad asked the Speaker adding that the government is trying to divert attention from the real issue of quota-within-quota. The Speaker had called regional parties and one-member parties in Parliament to express their views on the legislation.
After attending the meeting, SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav said, “We are not against women’s reservation. But we are against the Women’s Reservation Bill in its present form. It is a conspiracy to wipe out the leadership which has emerged from villages and from among backwards and poor.”
Prasad said, “We want quota within quota. We want women from Muslim and Dalit communities to benefit from the legislation. While Mulayam Singh and I are dubbed as anti-women’s reservation, the fact is that we would like women from such communities to get 60%. But the question is whether others will agree.”
BSP leader Dara Singh Chauhan is reported to have opposed the bill in its present form at the meeting. He said the government should not force the legislation. Even RLD’s Ajit Singh said that it should be left to the political parties to have reservation for women.
“Seats should not be identified and reserved for women. The decision should be left to the political parties,” he said. The government assured the smaller parties that it would try and develop a consensus and it is not looking to force the passage of the bill.
The bill granting 33% reservation for women in the LS and state assemblies was passed by the RS after two days of high drama in March 2010. The Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill has been hanging fire for close to 14 years due to lack of consensus on the issue. It was first drafted by the Deve Gowda-led government and introduced in Parliament in September 1996. Economic Times