Key ally Trinamool Congress on Monday dealt a blow to the government’s plans to push the women’s reservation bill in Lok Sabha during the current budget session by joining forces with the opposing Yadav trio.
The all-party meet, chaired by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, failed to evolve a consensus with Lalu Prasad, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Sharad Yadav adamant on a sub-quota for Muslims, Dalits and backwards in the Bill. But it did cause the Congress more embarrassment by bringing to the fore the closeness between Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee and the Yadav chieftains.
Banerjee — whose party abstained from voting on the bill in Rajya Sabha on March 9 — met the Yadavs after the meeting and even accompanied them to Mukherjee’s office to convey their main objections. “Our stand hasn’t changed,” Lalu said.
The leaders agreed on further talks and on not using force during the introduction of the bill, which reserves 33 per cent seats in Lok Sabha and the state assemblies for women. The government — aware that the number of naysayers in Lok Sabha is higher than in Rajya Sabha, where marshals had to evict the protesting MPs — is treading cautiously on this aspect.