The issue of Women’s Reservation Bill created uproar in the Lok Sabha for the fourth day on Thursday despite Government seeking to mollify its opponents offering to explore “various ideas and possibilities” by consulting them before bringing the Bill to the House.
The Government failed to break the deadlock on the issue despite Leader of the Lok Sabha Pranab Mukherjee assuring the anti-Bill troika that there was “no harm” in having an all party meeting and “various ideas and possibilities” could be explored.
He also cited instances of certain Bills that were passed by one House but rejected by the other.
Not satisfied with the assurance, the members of the SP, the RJD and the JD(U) once again stormed the Well forcing two adjournments.
As the House assembled for the day, the issue generated heat with members of the SP, the RJD and the JD(U) storming the Well demanding inclusion of OBCs, Dalits and Muslims in the quota for women.
Speaker Meira Kumar allowed SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav and RJD chief Lalu Prasad to air their views on the Bill.
The three leaders wanted separate quotas for OBCs, Dalits and Muslims in the Bill and demanded that it be amended before being introduced in the Lok Sabha.
They also wanted an all-party meeting to arrive at a consensus on the issue.
“Before the Bill is introduced in the Lok Sabha we will consult you,” Mr. Mukherjee said pointing out that “all these issues can be raised, debated and decided by this House only.”
“There are instances, one House had passed the Constitution Amendment Bill and the other House had rejected it,” he said seeking to pacify the agitating members.
Noting that there were divergent views on the issue, Mr. Mukherjee said there were debates and discussions but no consensus could be reached.
“I myself held several rounds of talks. Then Home Minister Shivraj Patil took meetings. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took meetings. Various attempts were made during UPA-I and NDA regimes to arrive at a consensus.
“But certain political parties took a particular view, some others took a different view. There was no convergence of views,” Mr. Mukherjee said.
“There is no harm in calling an all-party meeting. This is a Constitution Amendment Bill which has to be passed with special majority and ratified by half of the States,” he said.
“Various ideas can be explored to narrow down divergence and bring convergence. So let the House transact normal business. Nothing can be achieved by stalling the proceedings. Financial business has to be completed and there is a time schedule for it,” he said.
Earlier, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav contended that the Bill in its current form would benefit only women who have already made progress and ignore those who have been left behind.
“Those who have been pushed behind will be further pushed behind. We have to make provisions for reservation for Dalit, backward and Muslim women,” Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav said.
He said the Samajwadi Party was ready to support amendments to the Women’s Reservation Bill.
As Mr. Yadav began to speak on price rise, there were suggestions from the BJP benches that he should not divert from the issue of women’s reservation.
JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav said there was restlessness among political activists across the country over the Bill.
“This is a Constitution Amendment Bill. Heavens will not fall if you hold discussions with all parties,” he said.
“Talk to everyone. Let leaders of all parties sit together and find a way out,” he said.
He contended that nobody, except political activists, has the ability to understand the country better and the Bill sought to negate their work carried over a lifetime.
“Before being brought to this House, there should be consensus on it,” Mr. Sharad Yadav said.
RJD chief Lalu Prasad said that a solution to the current deadlock could be found if leaders of all parties meet.
Mr. Prasad said he had also called up Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on the issue but did not specify whether there was any discussion.