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Expect acrimony in LS over Govt move to table women?s quota Bill

The stage is set for yet another acrimonious face-off between the proponents and diehard opponents of the Women's Reservation Bill.
PTI | By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 21, 2003 03:33 PM IST

The stage is set for yet another acrimonious face-off between the proponents and diehard opponents of the Women's Reservation Bill, with the Government deciding to bring the contentious draft legislation for discussion and passage in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday and in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.

The Bill, on which there is no unanimity, will come after the Lower House takes up the other two constitutional amendment Bills: one relating to the delimitation of constituencies as per the 2001 census and the other empowering states to levy a service tax in place of VAT, the imposition of which has been deferred under pressure from certain lobbies.

Though whips have been issued by all parties, past experience over the Women's Bill has again revived apprehensions about its fate in the Lok Sabha. The original draft of the Bill has the backing of the BJP, Congress and the Left, giving the Government the necessary numbers required for a constitutional amendment. The TDP and the AIADMK also favour the Bill.

But its opponents, including the SP, RJD, Shiv Sena, Akali Dal, Samata, JD (U), straddle the NDA-Opposition divide. In fact, they are working on a three-fold strategy to stall and prevent the Bill's passage. 

In addition to prolonging the debate on the other two Bills, the anti-reservationists are likely to draw deeper the wedge between the NDA partners on the contentious gender quota in elected legislatures.

Besides projecting an alternative proposal for according reservations for women in parties, some of them could also seek a dilution in the quota from 33 per cent to 15-20 per cent. The NDA constituents, in particular, also hope to stall the Bill by putting the BJP in the dock for its unilateral approach on such an explosive legislation.

"We are part of the NDA, but the BJP did not consult us before deciding to bring the Bill on Tuesday. It needs us to run the government but it is colluding with the Congress on this issue," charged Shiv Sena's Chandrakant Khaire.

At the 75-minute long BAC meeting on Monday, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav sought more time to discuss the alternative proposal but the Government rejected it, stating that he hadn't been able to evolve a consensus on it since the March 7 all party meeting on the subject.

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