Before opening formal consultations, the government and the three Yadavs — Mulayam (SP), Lalu (RJD) and Sharad (JD-U) — opposed to the Women’s Reservation Bill began working the backchannels to look for the elusive meeting ground.
On Friday, Mulayam reportedly went back on the issue of ‘quota within quota.’ Instead, he wanted it made mandatory that parties reserve 20 per cent tickets for women. Failure to do so should invite deregistration of the party.
“We are in favour of women’s reservation but we don’t want more than 20 per cent. In that also, parties should be given the right to decide on the seats to be given to women,’ he told CNN-IBN.
However, his spokesman, Mohan Singh dismissed as speculative reports that the party had given up its sub-quota demand. “There is no change in our stand that if 33 per cent seats in Lok Sabha and assemblies are to be reserved for women, then a quota should be fixed for Muslim and OBC women within this,” he said.
To add to the confusing scenario, Mulayam, Lalu and Sharad had reportedly told the prime minister on Tuesday that if the government pruned reservations to around 20 per cent, they could consider the offer.
“This offer stands, but the government appears to be adamant to pass it in the present form... Then we are left with no option but to intensify our protest,” said an OBC leader.
Reacting to reports of Mulayam’s shift, a Congressman said the SP leader could put his views across to the government whenever formal consultations are initiated. He also claimed that the Yadavs continued to insist on a sub-quota even if the percentage of reservation is reduced to 20 per cent.
“There is no question of any dilution in the one-third reservation in the Bill... But we will not say it openly as it would then render any consultation with the Yadavs redundant,’’ he said.
Sharad refused to elaborate on the talks with the government, but refuted reports of differences between the three Yadavs. “So far as the Bill is concerned, our opposition is on a common point and anything beyond that can be discussed later,” he said.
The Yadav trio — who also met Speaker Meira Kumar on Wednesday — has been emboldened by the voices of dissent within the BJP and Congress.
“At an appropriate time we will tell how many leaders of the Congress, BJP and Left told us they are opposed to the Bill,” said RJD leader R.P. Singh.