M A I N   N E W S

Women’s Quota Bill
Yadav trio left out in cold
Sharad, Nitish lock horns over quota within quota
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 7
With an overwhelming majority of political parties determined to pass the Women’s Reservation Bill, setting aside 33 per cent quota for women in Parliament and Assemblies to mark the centenary celebrations of International Women’s Day tomorrow, the Yadav trio — Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lalu Prasad Yadav and Sharad Yadav — that is opposing the Bill appears to have been left out in the cold.

Further, the issue of granting reservation to women, without allowing a quota within quota for Backward, Dalit and Muslim women, the main demand of the Yadav triumvirate, has split Sharad Yadav’s Janata Dal-United (JD-U), which is insisting on quota within quota for OBC, Dalit and Muslim women, vertically.

Defying JD-U president, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is supporting the Bill. Nobody knows now which way the JD-U would swing tomorrow.

JD-U sources disclosed that while a majority of its MPs are opposed to the Bill, majority of the six Rajya Sabha members of the party are aligned with Nitish. The party whip in the Upper House Ali Anwar Ansari too is a Nitish loyalist. So they are likely to go the Nitish way.

Sharad has summoned his parliamentary party meeting tomorrow morning. JD-U chief whip Rajiv Ranjan Singh Lalana, a friend-turned-foe of Nitish, is now backing Sharad. However, the JD-U parliamentary party leader is octogenarian Ram Sunder Das, another Nitish camp follower. Therefore, it will not be easy for Sharad to carry his parliamentary party with him on the Bill tomorrow.

Curiously Nitish Kumar has said: “When I was a member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee, I had given a dissent note. Now, the time has come to give women reservation in Lok Sabha and state Assemblies.”

But while there is near certainty about the passage of the Bill tomorrow, there are still skeptics who point out that the Supreme Court has set a limit of 50 per cent for all reservations so far. There is a quota of 22 per cent for SC/STs in Parliament and Assemblies. If women are given 33 per cent, the sum total of quota seats would go up to 55 per cent, beyond the apex court limit.

Meanwhile, both the Congress and the BJP are invoking emotional reasons for supporting the Bill. Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmed said: “We are emotionally attached to the Bill, the process for which was initiated by late Rajiv Gandhi.”

Similarly, Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj asserted that that ‘the Bill is a dream of our two big leaders Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani.” BJP president Nitin Gadkari convened an emergency meeting of the party Core Group today to discuss the Bill.

Issuing a statement later, Gadkari said, “The Core Group unanimously decided to ensure passage of the Constitution Amendment providing for one-third reservation for women in Lok Sabha and state Assemblies.”



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