Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has come out in open support for the women's reservation bill, putting the ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U) in a dilemma as party president Sharad Yadav has opposed the legislation.
"I am in support of the women's reservation bill in its present form, it should be pushed through soon," Nitish Kumar told reporters here Saturday.
Kumar's support for the bill in its present form is a major setback for the lobby led by Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and his own party president Sharad Yadav. They are demanding a quota for women belonging to backward castes and Muslims within the 33 percent.
Nitish Kumar said he does not agree with the stand of Lalu Prasad, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Sharad Yadav.
"My stand is clear, I am for passing the bill in parliament," Nitish Kumar said. The bill is to be introduced in the Rajya Sabha Monday, International Women's Day.
Nitish Kumar said he will speak with his party leaders including Sharad Yadav on the matter.
He made it clear that he supported the quota-within-quota demand for Other Backward Castes and Muslim women within the larger quota for women but it should not delay the bill.
"First, the women's reservation bill should get through without further delay. The quota-within-quota demand should not become a big hurdle," he said.
Nitish Kumar said that Bihar was the first state in the country to reserve 50 percent seats in panchayats (village councils) for women. "It was a big success and an inspiration for others to follow because it helped in empowerment of women," he said.