The Samajwadi Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Bahujan Samaj Party, as expected, opposed the existing format of the Women’s Reservation Bill at a meeting Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar called on Thursday to scour for a consensus on the issue.
Known opponents of the bill, the SP and the RJD, renewed their call for a subquota for minorities and other backward classes. After the meeting, SP’s Mulayam Singh Yadav and RJD’s Lalu Prasad Yadav alleged that the existing bill was part of a “conspiracy” to smother the leadership of parties representing the rural, poor and backward classes.
“We are not against women’s reservation. But we are against the bill in its present form. It is a conspiracy to wipe out the leadership which has emerged from villages and from amongst backwards and poor,” charged Mulayam Singh.
“We want women from Muslim and Dalit communities to benefit from the legislation. While Mulayam Singh and I are dubbed as anti-women’s reservation, the fact is that we would like women from such communities to get 60% reservation. But the question is whether others will agree,” said Lalu Prasad. He also said that the government should called the all-party meeting. The BSP, represented by Dara Singh Chauhan, too is against the existing bill.
Kumar’s meeting included parties, which had stayed away from a similar interaction last month. At that meeting, while some parties wanted the bill brought in the monsoon session, the Shiv Sena had demanded that instead of reserving one third seats for women in assemblies and the Lok Sabha, there should be a quota for them while distributing tickets. RJD’s Raghuvansh Prasad Singh had renewed the demand for a “quota within quota.” Even leader of opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj had called for a consensus bringing the bill in the Lok Sabha in order to avoid the acrimony seen during its passage in the Rajya Sabha in March 2010.