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Updated: March 31, 2010 20:21 IST

Too premature to talk of dilution in Women’s Bill: Manmohan

PTI
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi at a party function in New Delhi on March 27, 2010. Photo: V. Sudershan
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi at a party function in New Delhi on March 27, 2010. Photo: V. Sudershan

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday dismissed as “too premature” the possibility of any dilution in the Women’s Reservation Bill in the wake of stiff opposition from the Yadav troika.

“It is too premature,” was his cryptic response when asked whether the Bill, which seeks to provide 33 per cent reservation to women in the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies, could see any dilution in view of opposition from some political parties.

Mr. Singh said the matter was under discussion. “We will discuss with political parties how best to proceed. We are committed to discussing the issue.“

At the AICC briefing, party spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan rejected suggestions of any dilution in the Bill.

“Our stand is that it should be passed in the same form as in the Rajya Sabha. We are confident of convincing everyone,” she said in reply to a volley of questions on the issue.

The remarks are significant as a meeting of leaders of political parties in the Lok Sabha has been convened here on April 5, 2010 for wider consultations.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is the Leader of the Lok Sabha, has convened the meeting in the backdrop of strong reservations by Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lalu Prasad and Sharad Yadav against the Bill which has already been passed by the Rajya Sabha.

Mayawati-led BSP has also been opposing the Bill in its present form.

Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily had on Tuesday said 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.

The Bill has evoked sharp opposition from the Yadav troika, who have been demanding a quota within quota for women from backward communities and minorities. Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mr. Prasad have threatened to withdraw support if the government pushes the Bill in its present form.

Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav said the Bill would only help those belonging to families of industrialists and bureaucrats and whom youths would “whistle” at.

While the BJP had supported the Bill in the Rajya Sabha along with Left parties, a section in the party is understood to be having reservations against the Bill.

'NAC to give new dimension to govt’s working’

Meanwhile, Mr. Singh hailed the revival of National Advisory Council (NAC) with Sonia Gandhi as its head saying it would bring a “new dimension” to the working of the government.

Noting that the Council would provide “very important inputs” impacting the impulse of the civil society and people, he said “it will bring to bear a new dimension on the working of the government.”

After a gap of four years, the Council was revived a couple of days back with Ms. Gandhi, who has been made chairperson again, busy finalising the composition of the panel.

The appointment drew sharp criticism from the main opposition BJP, which said that by accepting the post Ms. Gandhi would be directly responsible for all acts of omission and commission of the government, including its failure to check rising prices.

Reports said Ms. Gandhi could decide the Council in the next few days so that the advisory body could guide the government in giving a boost to planned key programmes including the proposed Food Security Bill.

The Council has been revived at a time when issues like the Communal Violence Bill and the proposed national law on health and water are engaging the attention of the government.

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