Opposition to the Women’s Reservation Bill surfaced again in Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad and Independent member Kalyan Singh declared it would marginalize women from backward communities and minorities, and spell doom for regional parties.
“Unless there is exclusive reservation for backward women within the quota of reservation for women, the law will not be acceptable to us,” Singh said in his reply to the President’s address. “Fifteen per cent rich women cannot take charge of 85 per cent poor women.”
Singh and Lalu were echoing views already expressed by Samajwadi Party’s Mulayam Singh Yadav and Janata Dal-United’s Sharad Yadav. All these leaders maintain they don’t oppose the bill per se, but want a 33 per cent quota within the reserved seats exclusively for women from OBC communities and minorities.
Supporters of the Bill — which seeks to reserve one-third of all seats in Lok Sabha and state assemblies for women — have a clear majority in Lok Sabha for the first time. The Congress, BJP and Left are all in favour. Yet, getting it passed may prove difficult.
The Bill is the longest pending (13 years) Bill in India’s parliamentary history. It provides for exclusive reservation for scheduled caste and scheduled tribe women, but not for women from OBC or minority communities
The Bill is presently being examined by a parliamentary standing committee on law and justice.