The Left parties on Monday criticised the government for its inability to get the Women's Reservation Bill passed in the Rajya Sabha despite enjoying majority support across the floor.
“Nearly 200 of the 225 members of the Rajya Sabha had extended support and issued whip for the passage of the Bill,” Communist Party of India (Marxist) Parliamentary Party leader Sitaram Yechury said after the House adjourned for the day.
The House witnessed five adjournments as members belonging to the Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal tore up copies of the Bill and reached close to the Chair.
Brinda Karat of the CPI(M) said the government did not have any floor strategy and even failed to protect the Chair. Though it was known that certain parties were opposed to the provisions in the Bill, the floor managers did nothing to prevent the shameful incident.
“It was the utter failure of the government in missing an historic opportunity,” she said, criticising the late move by the government to consult others after the floor proceedings were disrupted.
She said the CPI(M) members went to the chamber of Chairman Hamid Ansari to express regrets for the unruly scenes, and it was at that stage Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Prithviraj Chavan sought to know what should be done.
The CPI also had similar views. Party member D. Raja stressed that the supporting parties should have been called for consultations earlier instead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh holding a meeting with leaders at 4.15 p.m., after the House witnessed repeated adjournments.
CPI Parliamentary Party leader Gurudas Dasgupta, who was also present at the meeting, told The Hindu that his party insisted that the government hold a debate and urged it to follow parliamentary procedure.
The emphasis came after some suggestion was floated at the meeting that the Constitutional Amendment Bill could be passed even without a discussion. However, both the BJP and the Left felt that an important Bill could not be passed in that fashion.
At the last meeting of the Business Advisory Committee, Left leaders apparently asked the government if it had worked out the details to ensure the Bill's smooth passage. “Even then they maintained everything was fine.”
One Left leader said the government's plans to break the Opposition unity by introducing the Women's Reservation Bill boomeranged, as in the end it had to start calculating the numbers in the Lok Sabha, crucial for the Budget session. The obvious inference was to the threat of the SP and RJD to withdraw support to the UPA if it pushed the Bill.