The support of a majority of his own party MPs to the women's quota Bill notwithstanding, Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav on Tuesday accused the UPA of forcing through the Bill in the Rajya Sabha.

“You cannot push through a constitutional amendment. It is only done after evolving consensus,” Mr. Yadav told journalists.

Noting that the then Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, too could have passed the Bill during his tenure, Mr. Yadav said, “He [Vajpayee] had the majority. But he believed in consensus.”

Asked how he could talk of consensus amongst so many parties when there were sharp divisions within his own party, Mr. Yadav said, “My party is a small issue and I am discussing a national issue.”

Mr. Yadav said that during his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the morning, he had requested him to convene an all-party meeting and defer voting on the Bill in the Upper House.

“All those who have reservations on the Bill should be heard. I wanted all parties to listen to the reservations of those opposing the Bill in its present form,” the JD(U) leader said.

Not acceptable: Gowda

Janata Dal (Secular) chief H.D. Deve Gowda said the Bill in its present form was not acceptable to his party. He would decide on his strategy on the floor of the Lok Sabha when the Bill was tabled for discussion and voting.

“I want to make it very clear that in its present form it is difficult for me to extend support to the Bill. I welcome the move by the UPA to bring the Bill. However, it should consider making changes in it for giving reservation to OBC and Muslim women just like I had done in Karnataka during my chief ministership in 1995, otherwise it would not help these communities,” he told journalists in Delhi.

“The government has waited for 14 years to get the Bill cleared. Heavens will not fall if changes are made in it. Is it so difficult for the government to introduce the changes in it,” he asked.

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