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Dissent brewing over Bill in BJP

The top Bharatiya Janata Party leadership may believe it has scored a powerful political point by supporting the passage of the women’s quota Bill in the Rajya Sabha, but discontent is brewing within its ranks.

delhi Updated: Mar 10, 2010 23:39 IST
Vikas Pathak

The top Bharatiya Janata Party leadership may believe it has scored a powerful political point by supporting the passage of the women’s quota Bill in the Rajya Sabha, but discontent is brewing within its ranks.

Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath told Hindustan Times that the party had fallen into a trap laid by the Centre, which wanted to deflect attention from inflation and national security.

“Most MPs believe it to be so,” he said. “We have made our views known to the top leadership and will seek a debate within the BJP Parliamentary Party on the issue.”

He was critical of the party’s position: “We are getting our priorities wrong as an Opposition party. Give not 33 but 50 per cent quota to women, but get the priorities right. Can reservation fill the stomachs of the hungry when prices are skyrocketing? After the debate on inflation earlier on, it has been totally overshadowed by this quota debate. Even internal security is not being discussed.”

This is in contrast to the top leadership’s belief that they have been able to be seen in the forefront of the progressive measure, and it is the Congress that faces potential problems from sullen allies and Muslim voters.

Adityanath also opposed the idea of a party whip on the Bill. “This is a constitutional amendment Bill, and we have taken an oath on the constitution,” he said. “So there should be no whip and MPs should be allowed to vote according to conscience.”

Madhubani MP Humdev Narayan Yadav raised the OBC sub-quota issue, much in line with the objections raised by Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lalu Prasad and Sharad Yadav. “Sixteen percent upper caste people are monopolising power, and 84 per cent Dalits, backwards and minorities are being painted as bhikhmangas (beggars),” he said. “Quotas are part of US and multi-national companies’ conspiracy against sons of the soil. No Patels, Ambedkars, Deen Dayals, Lohias and Vajpayees will make it under such a system. Only free-floating people will come to Parliament. If this is the aim, install revolving chairs in the House.”

He also warned that such an approach would undo caste cohesion, which is the mainstay of the idea of Hindutva consolidation.

Another MP from Chhattisgarh told HT on condition of anonymity that the rotation of seats principle would be harmful.

“Rotation may lead to Parivarvad (dynastic principle), as those who lose their seats will field women from their families. This will be negative.”