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Nitish vows to stand his ground, will support Bill

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday vowed to stand his ground in favour of the Women’s Reservation Bill even though his support threatened to split his JD-U party down the middle.

patna Updated: Mar 09, 2010 00:29 IST
Vijay Swaroop
Vijay Swaroop
Hindustan Times

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday vowed to stand his ground in favour of the Women’s Reservation Bill even though his support threatened to split his JD-U party down the middle.

The JD-U has traditionally demanded a ‘quota within a quota’ for other backward classes (OBCs) in the proposal to reserve 33 per cent seats for women in the Lok Sabha and state legislatures.

But Kumar recently decided to back the Bill, sponsored by the Congress. His volte-face has come in for sharp criticism from his partymen, after JD-U national president Sharad Yadav openly opposed the Bill in its present form at the party’s national executive meeting on Monday. Many are demanding action against the chief minister and his supporters for violating the party’s stand.

“The party’s national executive meeting has decided to fight for a quota within a quota. Nobody is above party discipline and there should not be two parameters for anti-party activities. Action should be taken against him and state party president Vijay Choudhary for supporting the Bill,” JD-U legislative council member Shambhu Srivastava said.

But undeterred by the opposition, Kumar said the Bihar government’s experiment of providing 50 per cent reservation to women in gram panchayats (village councils) and other local bodies had given a new dimension to the issue.

“We have seen the enthusiasm among women, which is so necessary for the development of the state,” he said, while addressing a function organised by the party’s state unit to mark International Women’s Day in Patna. “One has to change the mindset on any issue with changing times and circumstances. Even Mahatma Gandhi had to change his ideology. The time has come to give women their due. That’s why I appeal to my party leaders to think over the issue once again.”

Kumar said he was not opposed to reservation for backward class women. “Days are over when men behaved like dictators. Now, they must accommodate a woman’s views and act the same way they (men) do for themselves,” he added.

Taking a swipe at RJD chief Lalu Prasad for saying “India is a male-dominated country,” Kumar advised him not to take things for granted.

“If they (women) respect us, this doesn’t mean that we should suppress them,” he said.

First Published: Mar 09, 2010 00:25 IST