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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

Cong to counter Samajwadi Party with women's quota bill

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, March 29, 2013
First Published: 23:35 IST(29/3/2013) | Last Updated: 13:37 IST(30/3/2013)

The Congress is contemplating to bring the controversial women’s reservation bill in the second half of the budget session in a deft move to counter the Samajwadi Party’s pro-Muslim agenda.

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The proposed legislation, a pet project of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, seeks to provide 33% reservation to women in Parliament and state legislative bodies.

The Rajya Sabha had passed the historic bill by a two-third majority on March 9, 2010, amid high drama and threat by the SP and the RJD to withdraw support to the UPA.

“We will bring the bill in Lok Sabha in the ongoing budget session… It is our commitment,” Congress spokesman Rashid Alvi said.

Though the move is bound to provoke the SP and few other parties, the Congress is determined to go ahead with it even at the cost of risking its government as the party had done in the case of nuclear bill and the FDI in retail issue.

Opposing the bill in the present form, the SP is demanding a quota within the quota for dalits, backwards classes and Muslim women.

“Let them bring down the government on this issue… we will go to the people’s court,” a senior Congress leader said, indicating that the party will make the women’s bill a key issue in the next Lok Sabha elections.

SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, who is currently on a Congress-bashing spree, has raised the pitch for providing reservation for Muslims in government jobs as he is feeling the heat over frequent communal riots in Uttar Pradesh, ever since his son Akhilesh Yadav took over the reigns of the state.

“There have been more than 12 incidents of anti-Muslim riots in UP in the past one year. SP is worried that its core vote base is moving away and hence this aggression,” another Congress leader said.

Many Congress leaders are of the view that the party will tolerate “whims and fancies” of supporting partners only till the passage of reform agenda in Parliament after which they “won’t be bothered and even ready to go for early elections”.

These leaders are also of the view that it would be difficult for Mulayam to pull the plug on the UPA given that his bitter rival BSP chief Mayawati has pitched her support to the government on the secular versus communal plank.

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