BJP gets its way with debate on Bill

  • Shekhar Iyer, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 10, 2010 00:12 IST

The BJP had its way on a debate before the Rajya Sabha voted on the Women's Reservation Bill on Tuesday.

After a last-minute word leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley had with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari, the Centre agreed to the BJP demand lest it changed its mind on supporting the Bill.

When Ansari put the Bill to vote, Jaitley went over to Singh and Ansari to convey the BJP’s “firm” demand amid slogan-shouting by opposing MPs.

Referring to the Emergency, when the 42nd amendment was passed without a debate, Jaitley told them the BJP would not back the Bill unless a number of securitymen (marshals) inside the House were removed and a debate preceded the vote.

Since the Bill came up on Monday, the BJP had been insisting on a debate on the ground that it did not want an epoch-making legislation voted on without debate.

Jaitely told Singh and Ansari that “passing a Constitution amendment bill without a debate and amid security reminds us of the infamous 42nd amendment”.

The then Opposition had criticized the 42nd Amendment, 1976, as almost like rewriting the Constitution.

Jaitely returned to his seat, not sure his demand had been accepted. When he was called upon to speak, he started with what he had told Singh and Ansari. When other leaders began to speak, Ansari sent Jaitley a letter thanking him for paving the way for the debate.

Asked whether the BJP would have withdrawn support to the Bill if the debate had not been allowed, Jaitley
said, “Fortunately, the government did not force us to go that far.”

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