The government's plan to bring the women’s bill in the winter session of Parliament has run into more trouble with the CPI opposing the RJD’s call for an all-party meeting to evolve a consensus — which has proved elusive so far — on the issue.
The differences came to the fore on Sunday when CPI general secretary AB Bardhan noted that several all-party meetings had already been held on the subject and there was no need for another.
“Holding another meeting will become an excuse for delaying the bill and betray the women’s cause for political empowerment,” he said, demanding introduction and passage of the bill that seeks to reserve one-third seats for women in Lok Sabha and the state assemblies.
After RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav extended his support to the bill at the UPA-Left meeting on November 22, the coalition claimed unanimity on the introduction of the bill. But less than 24 hours later, Lalu and his MPs met Leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee and demanded a sub-quota for OBCs and minorities as well as an all-party meeting to hammer out a consensus. The MPs claimed that their party was opposed to the bill, in this or any other form, unless there was a sub-quota for OBCs, minorities and SC/STs.
To put further pressure on the government, the Forum for OBC MPs is likely to meet on Tuesday.
The RJD MPs, who also want a meeting of the UPA parliamentary party, claimed that Mukherjee had agreed to an all-party meeting.
The Samajwadi Party too has warned that it will oppose the bill unless there is a sub-quota. It favours the Election Commission formula of parties giving one-third tickets to women in elections.
Like the Left, the Congress officially supports the bill in its existing form, though several of its members privately oppose it.
In the NDA, partners like the JD-U and Shiv Sena are opposed to the bill while the BJP — which favours the EC formula — has chosen not to oppose it in the hope that the differences between the UPA allies will scuttle it.
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