The Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal on Monday said they would oppose the Women’s Reservation Bill in its present form at the all-party meeting convened by the government and stick to their demand for quota for Muslim women and backward classes.
Ahead of the meeting convened by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is Leader of the Lok Sabha, to find a way out of the impasse on the Bill in the Lower House, SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and RJD chief Lalu Prasad said while they were not against reservation for women, they would insist on their stand of “reservation within reservation”.
The Rajya Sabha had last month passed the Bill providing for 33 per cent reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies.
“We have opposed the Bill in its present form. We are not opposed to reservation for women,” the SP supremo said.
Mr. Yadav said that the Bill envisaged rotation of the seats reserved for women and it is possible that in a House with 543 seats, women will fight in over 181 seats.
In such a scenario, it is possible that just around 50 of seats could be contested by men in the elections, he said.
Mr. Prasad said, “We will not oppose reservation. We will stick to our old stand of reservation within reservation. The Bill must include reservation for Muslim women, women from backward classes and Dalits.”
CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat, however, made it clear that her party will press for the passage of the Bill in the present session itself.
Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that in a matter where there is such a large volume of bipartisan support, the strategy should be discussed.
The Bill is expected to be taken up for consideration in the Lok Sabha when it resumes the budget session on April 15.
Mr. Singhvi said while the strategy to be adopted in the Lok Sabha should be fine tuned, there was no reason why there should be any problem on the issue of the fundamental principle.
“If you don’t have such strategy meetings, then you are accused of not carrying other parties with you. And if you do have them, questions start arising,” he said, adding that the approach is to find a constructive solution to ensure the bottom line result which is to get the bill passed.
The government is keen on pushing ahead with the Bill but is said to be averse to using force for the purpose because of the stature of the opponents.
In the Rajya Sabha, marshals were used to remove obstructing members but the decision came in for severe attack later.
Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily said last week that the government is going ahead with the Bill in its present form in the Lok Sabha in the second phase of the Budget Session beginning April 15. He denied that there would be any changes in the Bill.