Neena Vyas

Congress, BJP, Left parties issue whip

NEW DELHI: The Central government on Friday took one more step forward in preparation for the Constitution amendment that would, if passed, bring 33 per cent reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal invited the whips of all political parties for lunch where he requested them to direct their members to be present in the Rajya Sabha when the Constitution (One Hundred and Eighth Amendment) Bill 2008 was taken up for consideration and passage on March 8. After Monday, the Bill would be renamed the Constitution (Ninety-sixth Amendment) Bill 2010.

The Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party and all the Left parties have issued whips, asking their members to be present and vote for the Bill. Some other parties would also be doing so, Mr. Bansal said.

The Samajwadi Party has let it be known that it would issue a whip, asking its MPs to vote against the Bill. Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav said there was no change in his party's stand. It favoured reservation but with a sub-quota for women of backward classes. Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad has also expressed himself against the Bill.

A BJP leader said: “The Bill has not been passed for over a decade because there were some parties and MPs actively opposing it and there were a large number of MPs in all parties, including those who favour the Bill, who are passively and silently opposing the Bill.”

The options

While the government is tight-lipped on how it intends handling those who oppose the Bill, it has several options. One, the Chair could order marshals to take members disturbing the proceedings out of the House.

This, MPs say, would be an extreme step. Two, the Chair could put the Bill to vote, asking the MPs to press the “yea' or “nay” button. This could be done despite some MPs moving into the well or making noise. Or, the Chair could desist from pushing through a Constitution amendment in a less than peaceful and orderly atmosphere.

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