Congress firm on going ahead with passage of Women Bill
Congress leaders, who do not want to go on record, recall that the general elections in 1971, after the defeat of the privy purses bill which sought to abolish benefits to the erstwhile princes, were won by Indira Gandhi hands down.delhi Updated: Mar 14, 2010 13:18 IST
Not withstanding the pause on Women's Reservation Bill in view of the priority for financial business, the Congress appears to be firm on going ahead with its passage in the Lok Sabha after the recess in the budget session.
Congress leaders are seeking to put pressure on the opponents of the bill by even talking of snap Lok Sabha poll in case of defeat.
The leaders, who do not want to go on record, recall that the general elections in 1971, after the defeat of the privy purses bill which sought to abolish benefits to the erstwhile princes, were won by Indira Gandhi hands down.
A section of Opposition leaders are also said to be sharing the Congress' view that its prospects could be good in case of election in the event of the defeat of the bill and so they want the focus to be shifted on issues like price rise.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who is being given credit for the Bill, has said the party had taken "huge risks" on the measure and that it had taken risks before.
Many Congress leaders believe the party is unlikely to lower the percentage of reservation for women from 33 as provided in the bill which has been passed in the Rajya Sabha.
Party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi dismissed lowering of the percentage and talk of fresh polls as "needless speculation". "We do not live to tilt at windmills and do imaginary crossing of non-existent bridges".
Besides, indications are that the Congress is unlikely to yield to the demands like quota within quota on communal considerations. Mulayam Singh Yadav of the SP, Lalu Prasad of the RJD and Sharad Yadav of the JD(U) are seeking a quota within quota for backwards and minorities.
Claiming that the campaign by the Yadav trio would turn out to be a "damp squib", senior party leader V Kishore Chandra Dev insists that there is "no going back" on the 33 per cent quota. "The very fact that the Yadavs are bargaining for percentage meant that they have accepted the principle of reservation".
A senior leader, who had once participated in the parleys over the Bill, feels that its passage in the Rajya Sabha has been a momentous occasion and the development would have its impact even in other democratic countries.
The talk is that suggestions that could be accepted include raising the strength of the Lok Sabha and the state assembles by one third. The strength of these bodies from an estimated 6,000 could be raised to 9,000.
Other suggestion that is unlikely to be rejected is to have one third of the current constituencies in the Lok Sabha and the state assemblies as double member constituencies.
There have been no indications so far as to when the Bill would come up in the Lok Sabha.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar are expected to talk to "all concerned" in a bid to arrive at a consensus on the issue.
Mukherjee, the "man for all seasons" in the Congress-led coalition, and the NCP supremo are likely to initiate discussions with the Yadav trio and leaders of parties like Shiv Sena who are opposed to the Bill during the inter-session period after the first phase of Budget session that concludes on March 17.
Mukherjee had led the ruling side in talks with the Left parties on the contentious Indo-US nuclear deal during UPA's first term. Pawar was also part of the UPA-Left committee which went into the nuclear deal.
Signalling that Congress was firm on the Bill, Gandhi has said it was part of the abiding commitment of the party to the empowerment of the 'aam aadmi'(common man) along with several other legislations of the government.