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Women quota may leave govt skating on thin ice

Passage of the Women's Reservation Bill may end up leaving the Congress-led coalition skating on thin ice in the remaining over four years of its tenure.

delhi Updated: Mar 07, 2010 12:39 IST

Passage of the Women's Reservation Bill may end up leaving the Congress-led coalition skating on thin ice in the remaining over four years of its tenure.

It may have to go the extra mile to keep the single member parties and independents in good humour to ensure that it has adequate numbers on its side.

Samajwadi Party and RJD, which together have 26 members in the Lok Sabha, are opposed to the bill and will vote against it. But, they are outside supporters of the UPA Government and their support cannot be taken for granted if the Constitution amendment bill for providing reservation for women in Lok Sabha and assemblies is passed.

Strains in their relationship with the government were visible when both the SP and the RJD chiefs Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Prasad said they are not with the government and will fiercely oppose the measure.

Government managers are counting on the support of BSP on the premise that with SP being a strong opponent of the Bill, Mayawati's party would not like to side with it, which is its arch rival in Uttar Pradesh politics.

The developments in Janta Dal (United), which has seen sharp divisions over the issue, with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar expressing his support to the measure has come as a godsend for the Congress.

Congress managers say that now they will have to take extra care of MPs like Jaswant Singh and Kalyan Singh, who were expelled from their party, as also independent like Inder Singh Namdhari and Raju Shetty.

The government now has the support of 300 MPs, including that of BSP, in the Lok Sabha.

A union minister said the effective strength of the government in Lok Sabha could come down dangerously if SP and RJD oppose it. 272 is the half-way mark in the 543-member House.

However, not in a mood to take any chance, the crisis managers of the party have swung into action to woo smaller parties and independents. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal had hosted a dinner for single member parties.

Also invited for the dinner were rebels from few parties, who had either resigned or were expelled including former JD-U leader Digvijay Singh and former SP leader Jaya Prada.