Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday refuted reports of a split in the ruling Janata Dal-United JD(U) over the Women’s Reservation Bill but admitted to differences in the party on the issue.
Kumar’s support to 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament and the State legislatures has put the JD(U) in a dilemma as party president Sharad Yadav has opposed the measure, which the Rajya Sabha passed on Tuesday.
Sharad Yadav, along with Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, is demanding a quota for Muslim women and women belonging to backward castes within the 33 per cent reservation.
Talking to reporters here, Kumar dismissed possibility of a split in the party over the issue.
“There is no chance of a split in the JD(U), the party is united,” he maintained.
Reacting to a report published in an English daily in New Delhi that 17 out of 20 party MPs met Sharad Yadav at his residence on Monday to throw their weight behind him, Kumar termed this mere speculation.
“I simply ignored it (the report),” he said.
Kumar, however, admitted that there were differences in the party over the Women’s Reservation Bill.
“There is an honest difference in the JD(U) on the issue,” he said, adding that the differences were only “ideological”. “There is no other problem,” he said.
‘Differences to be resolved’
Sharad Yadav sought to play down the divisions within its ranks over the Women’s Reservation Bill and rubbished reports of a possible split in the party on the issue.
“It is an internal matter in the party and will be sorted out soon,” Yadav said.
The rift within party ranks became visible when Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar came out in support of the bill a couple of days ago. The five JD(U) Rajya Sabha members voted in favour of the bill even though Yadav has been opposing it in its present form.
About the party’s future course of action, he said, “We will continue to oppose the Bill as the majority of the people in the country are against it.” He, however, ruled out the possibility of introducing a no-confidence motion in the House.