The Congress held a high level meeting under Pranab Mukherjee to discuss the draft to be sent on Tuesday to the parliamentary standing committee on law and justice that is looking into the Women’s Reservation Bill.
The panel, which had written to parties for their views on the issue, will have its third meeting on Tuesday in the face of stiff opposition to the existing bill from those demanding a sub-quota for Dalits, minorities and OBCs in it.
"Our stand remains unchanged. We are for the bill," said spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan, who participated in the talks and is also a member of the standing committee. She, however, steered clear of questions on whether the party was flexible in its stand on one-third seats for women in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies. "How can I say all these things," she asked.
Among the issues discussed at the meeting was how to counter the arguments of OBC leaders at the standing committee, including why there cannot be a sub-quota in the women’s bill when the UPA has allowed OBC quotas in education, and their contention that women are not a homogenous category and there are some who are more backward than others.
Mukherjee first held discussions with women leaders including Ambika Soni, Mohsina Kidwai, Margaret Alva, Meira Kumar, Prabha Thakur, Renuka Choudhary, Selja, P. Laxmi, Krishna Teerath, Tejaswini Ramesh and Natarajan herself. Later, he alongwith some leaders, went to confer with Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
On Tuesday, the panel is likely to hear how the experiment of women’s reservation has been a success at the panchayati raj level. Panchayati Raj Secretary Shalini Singh will give evidence before the panel.