Congress president Sonia Gandhi was confident of the stability of the Manmohan Singh government despite opposition from the RJD, the SP and the BSP to the women’s Bill and their reported threat to withdraw support to the UPA.
<b1>Asked whether the Centre was stable, she said:
"I think so. But one can never tell. I am not an astrologer…." Although she hoped the UPA’s former partners would remain with them, she added that the Congress-led combine would be "okay".
"I can’t see any issue coming up. The DMK and the NCP are fully in support of the Bill. At the cabinet meeting, I’m told, Mamata Banerjee was quite enthusiastic. If there had to be any problem, it would have been evident then," she told reporters in Parliament House even as the Rajya Sabha debated the Bill.
As for new allies, she said "let’s see". She admitted there was "some nervousness, some concern. But then we have seen worse situations."
Asked if her intervention gave a push to the Bill, she said, "I'm not saying that… We had a core group meeting at the PM’s office", indicating that the decision to press ahead was firmed up there. "I would never have wanted to back out… When we take a decision it is collective."
She recalled her light-hearted chat with RJD’s Lalu Prasad in the Lok Sabha. "His wife was chief minister. He has seven daughters. I asked him whether within his family there was support for the Bill or should I call up Rabri Devi and ask her?" she had quipped.
On Banerjee’s objection to the forcible eviction of suspended members, she said it was for the Rajya Sabha chairman to decide how to deal with "intruders" in the House.
She signed off saying that it was possible to carry forward Rajiv Gandhi's dream of quota for women with the cooperation of the UPA allies, the Left, the BJP and others, including men.