Women?s bill: Speaker fails to end impasse
Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi's renewed initiative to break the deadlock on Women's Reservation Bill in its present form seems to have failed. The exercise of finding a way out of the impasse through alternative proposals remained inconclusive when he met leaders of the Congress, CPI-M, BJP and SP on Tuesday.
On the face of it, they agreed to "consider" on merit the alternative proposals of increasing the number of seats in the House and providing some double-member constituencies. This suggested a forward movement, but the Congress and CPI-M insisted on the passage of the Bill in its present form and without any dilution in the 33 per cent reservation.
They also rejected SP chief Mulayam Singh's suggestion to consider the EC's proposal for a minimum agreed percentage of nominations for women in elections.
After Tuesday's meeting, interpretations on the outcome of the discussion differed, particularly on increasing the number of elective seats and providing double-member constituencies.
Though there was no opposition to the twin proposals in principle, there were differences on the percentage involved. But the government was asked to prepare an acceptable draft amendment.
Malhotra later claimed a "near consensus" and said the BJP's Raipur meet would discuss the proposals. But with CPI-M workers upset by reports that the party could back an alternative proposal, Chatterjee clarified: "I never agreed to any such alternative proposal and it was only suggested that if the government formulated some proposals and put them in the form of amendments then they would be considered.”