Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) supremo Lalu Prasad on Sunday declared that the Women's Reservation Bill was ‘a political blunder' and a conspiracy hatched by the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party to suppress representation of women from the backward classes.
Talking to journalists before leaving for Delhi to elicit support against the passage of the Bill, Mr. Prasad said: “Why only 33 per cent? I am for 50 per cent reservation for women if you like. But you cannot ignore the interests of women belonging to Other Backward Classes [OBC], Scheduled Castes [SC], Scheduled Tribes [ST] and backward sections of the Muslim community.”
“Women like Sushma Swaraj never needed a ‘reservation plank' to reach the top. It proves that the proposed Bill will only serve to further the interests of the elite classes.”
Severely censuring Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's U-turn on the Bill, Mr. Prasad remarked that he had been a member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee in 1997 to examine the Bill, and had submitted a note of dissent then.
Dubbing Mr. Kumar a bahurupiya (one who changes colours), Mr. Prasad said the Chief Minister's opportunistic tactics were merely to appease his alliance partner, the BJP.
Commenting that the RJD would not give up the fight to oppose the Bill, Mr. Prasad said: “We will fight it tooth and nail and are even prepared to be marshalled out for that matter.”
Further, he revealed that certain top leaders from the BJP and the Congress were in constant touch with him and told him if their parties had not issued the whip they would have voted against the Bill.
Stating that the Centre did not have the guts to implement the Ranganath Mishra and the Sachar Panel reports, Mr. Prasad said the renewed focus on Women's Bill was a “diversionary tactic” to draw attention away from real issues.