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It is war. Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav declared "jung aur jihad (war and holy war)" against the Congress-led UPA government on Tuesday after the Rajya Sabha passed the Women's Reservation Bill.
Accusing the Congress of creating "emergency-like situation" to push the legislation through, the duo described the Bill as a "conspiracy" by both the Congress and BJP to "suppress" the representation of women from minorities, Dalits and backward classes.
The two Other Backward Classes (OBC) leaders, who over the last five years have seen their influence wane, are hoping to regain lost ground by reviving a backward-Muslim coalition that saw Lalu dominate politics in Bihar and Mulayam in Uttar Pradesh in the 1990s.
By withdrawing support to the ruling coalition - they were backing the UPA without being a part of the government - they seem to have gone back to the 1970s when they were coming of their own and the Congress was the enemy.
"The Congress is trying to divert the attention from price rise, poverty and unemployment by moving the Bill," said Lalu. He made his intentions clear when he said, "Dilli abhi bahut door hai (there is still a long way to go)".
The duo will give in writing to President Pratibha Patil their decision to withdraw support. The RJD has four members in the Lok Sabha, while the SP's strength is 22.
In the afternoon, the two met Congress president Sonia Gandhi in the Lok Sabha but nothing came of it. Gandhi said later, "I told Laluji that he has seven daughters. I was telling him that within his family there are seven for the Bill." What was Lalu's response? "He just laughed," she said.
Even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh failed to prevail over them and also Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav when he met them in the morning. "No result came out. Nobody is willing to listen," said Mulayam.
While the three Yadavs insisted on deferring the Bill and an all-party meet, the PM told them that their concerns would be addressed once the Rajya Sabha would pass the Bill and before the Lok Sabha would take it up.
Lalu reached out to his predecessor, Railway Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, to get her support over the minority issue, and also to create a wedge within the UPA.
Sharad Yadav put up a brave front. His party, with 20 members in the Lok Sabha and 7 in the Rajya Sabha, is on the verge of a split after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar went public with his support for the Bill.
The party MPs have taken a divergent stand on the Bill.