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Updated: December 11, 2012 04:35 IST

Congress in a fix as BSP, SP lock horns over reservation bill

Sandeep Joshi
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BSP chief Mayawati with party general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra at Parliament House in New Delhi on Monday.
PTI BSP chief Mayawati with party general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra at Parliament House in New Delhi on Monday.

A week after convincing the SP and the BSP to support it during the FDI-in-retail vote, the UPA now has the job of getting the bitter rivals on the same page on the quota bill. BSP leader Mayawati on Monday warned of a tough posture after the SP succeeded in not letting the government table the bill that provides for quotas for the SCs/STs in promotions. “We will see for two-three days more...we will see the government’s stand on the issue, what they do and what the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha says. Then, we will decide and take a tough stand,” she said.

Ms. Mayawati, whose BSP walked out in the Lok Sabha during the FDI vote but voted for the government in the Rajya Sabha, noted that “the SC/ST Bill is a very serious issue for us. It is the government’s duty to run the House properly and get this bill debated and passed.”

The Rajya Sabha could not function post-lunch following the SP’s action. The Congress now seems to be in a fix as its two supporting parties — (pro-Bill) Bahujan Samaj Party and (anti-Bill) SP — have taken intractable positions. As Ms. Mayawati insisted on the bill, Samajwadi Party leaders said they would not let the Rajya Sabha function if the Congress-led UPA government went ahead. SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav said: “We will continue to oppose the Bill and we are ready for suspension. If they [the government] are adamant to get it passed, then we will do it [disrupt the House].”

Senior ministers continue to be in touch with both SP president Mulayam Singh Yadav and Ms. Mayawati to end the logjam. Rajya Chairman Hamid Ansari’s meeting with leaders of various parties remained inconclusive. Mr. Ansari is likely to meet these leaders, including Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley, BSP leader Satish Mishra, SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath and Minister of State in the PMO V. Narayanasamy, again in the morning to find a way out to let the Upper House function.

Earlier in the day, when the Rajya Sabha reassembled at 2 p.m., the SP MPs started raising slogans against the bill as Mr. Narayanasamy tried to move the Constitution Amendment Bill on quota in promotion for discussion. Amid the din, Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien asked the SP MPs to oppose the Bill when it came up for discussion. However, as the sloganeering continued, Mr. Kurien adjourned the House for the day.

BJP and SP working together

Later, talking to journalists, Ms. Mayawati accused the SP and the BJP of being hand-in-glove in trying to stall the Bill. “It is sad that to stop this bill, the BJP and company raised the issue of lobbying [by Walmart] in the Rajya Sabha. They allowed the Lok Sabha to function but they did not remember the issue of FDI and lobbying there. It proves that the BJP and its supporters don’t want this bill to be passed,” she added.

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