After 14 years and three failed attempts, the Rajya Sabha will vote on Monday to begin the legislative process for enacting a law reserving a third of seats in the Lok Sabha and states legislators for women.
<b1>It stands to make history on International Women’s Day. And there is every indication the august House will pass the Bill, which has the combined backing of the biggest political groupings in the country — the ruling UPA, the NDA and
Two more parties came out against the Women’s Reservation Bill on Sunday — Janata Dal (Secular)’s HD Deve Gowda and UP chief minister and Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati.
They join the three Yadavs — Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Lalu Yadav, Samajwadi Party’s Mulayam Singh Yadav and Janata Dal (United)’s Sharad Yadav — who have together prevented the bill’s passage since it was first introduced in Parliament in 1996.
Of the 33 per cent seats the Bill seeks to reserve for women, the Yadavs and the other opponents want a certain number to be set aside for women from the Other Backward Classes and the Muslim community.
This time, however, the opposition to the bill doesn’t look too strong. And the government looks in no mood to reconsider.
“After all, the country needs such a legislation, despite our best of intentions, the political parties could not evolve a system where adequate representation to be made available to women,” said law minister M. Veerappa Moily.
The bill has the support of the two-third of the House to make go through. But the opponents are not giving up.
“It is a big conspiracy by the Congress and the BJP to prevent Muslims, backwards and dalits to get elected to the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabhas,” said Mulayam Singh Yadav.
“The reality is that the Congress and BJP had always been anti-Muslim, anti-backwards and anti-dalit,” he said, adding, “The Bill is a dangerous move...will be opposed.”
Lalu Yadav said his party would fiercely oppose the bill, which he termed as a political blunder. “I am prepared to be thrown out by the marshals of the House, but I will not allow the Bill to be passed,” he said.
Bihar’s ruling Janata Dal (United), which saw its two top leaders — party chief Sharad Yadav and state chief minister Nitish Kumar, take opposing stands, continued to be divided.
“We will take a decision in the morning,” said party MP Shivanand Tiwari. The party hinted that it was unlikely to issue a whip to its MPs in the Rajya Sabha on the issue.