NATIONAL

Centre should take a stand in Imrana case, says Fernandes

JD (U) women's wing meet sees differences aired on reservation issue

Gargi Parsai

NEW DELHI: Janata Dal (United) president and National Democratic Alliance convener George Fernandes on Tuesday said the Centre should intervene in the Imrana case to ensure that the woman was allowed to live with her husband and her father-in-law punished for `raping' her. On the Uniform Civil Code, he said his party had long taken a stand that "we shall not make it an issue."

Speaking to media persons at the national executive of the mahila wing of the party here, Mr. Fernandes said: "The State cannot say there is some other law [Sharia] and not do anything concrete in the Imrana case. Here is a woman who was victimised... the Government should take a stand on the issue and act.''

The meeting, which turned stormy on occasions, saw differences within the party on the 33 per cent reservation for women in parliament and legislative assemblies come to the fore. While Mr. Fernandes favoured 33 per cent reservation for women "per se," chairman of the JD (U) parliamentary board Sharad Yadav said there should be reservation for Dalits within the 33 per cent. Nitish Kumar suggested that women should unite to get their political due.

Conceding there were "differences," Mr. Fernandes said there were different views within the party. For the differences to be resolved there should be discussions. The president of the mahila wing, Laxmi Goswani, said their view was that there should be 33 per cent reservation for women in general. "The idea is to get more women in parliament and assemblies."

Asked about his controversial meeting with RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan in Nagpur recently, Mr. Fernandes said: "[BJP president] L.K. Advani was not even aware of this meeting. As NDA convener I have a whole lot of concerns. The concern was about a truth that Lalji [Advani] said about [Pakistan founder] Mohammad Jinnah. He only quoted what Jinnah had said in his speech at the Constituent Assembly on secularism. Through this statement he was telling the Pakistanis to follow what Jinnah had said. He also cleared the issue of who was responsible for the Partition of the country. This enabled people to have a debate, go into history and look at the records.''

Mr. Fernandes sat through the meeting of the women's national executive at which state presidents spoke of their "neglect." Most of them complained of how they had been working for the erstwhile Samata Party (which merged with the JD (U) about 18 months ago) and now the JD (U) without any recognition. They complained about lack of access to the party leadership to discuss issues. Asked to respond to the organisational issues raised at the meeting, Mr. Fernandes said, "That is an in-house matter and would be discussed in-house."

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