All-party meet fails to evolve consensus on women’s quota bill (Second Lead)

June 22nd, 2011 - 6:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Bahujan Samaj Party New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) An all-party meeting Wednesday failed to evolve consensus on the women’s reservation bill, with two of its major opponents, the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), staying away and the others opposed to the measure remaining firm on the their stand.

“I will call the SP and the BSP separately to discuss the issue… Efforts will continue till consensus is achieved,” Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar told reporters after the meeting, adding that another meeting would be convened before the monsoon session of parliament begins August 1.

Meira Kumar had called the meeting to discuss the bill, which has already been passed by the Rajya Sabha. It provides for 33 percent reservation for women in parliament and the state legislatures. The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) are the other main parties along with SP and BSP opposing the bill. They are demanding a quota within a quota for women from the other backward classes (OBCs).

“Our stand has been the same since day one, we want a reservation for OBC women, and we will stand by it,” a RJD leader told IANS.

Senior RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad, who represented the party in the meeting, demanded a “quota within quota” for OBC women.

Shiv Sena MP Ananth Geete, meanwhile, suggested that instead of reserving 33 percent of seats, political parties should be given the right to give similar percentage of tickets to women.

Extending the BJP’s support to the bill, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj urged Meira Kumar to evolve a consensus on the bill.

“Members who disagree should be given a chance to put across their views and be allowed to press for amendments and even walkout. In the Rajya Sabha marshals had to be used. But no similar scenes should be repeated in the Lok Sabha,” Sushma Swaraj said.

The reference was to the BSP walkout from the upper house before the voting on the bill last March, while marshals had to be called in to evict some protesting members from the RJD, SP and JD-U, creating unruly scenes in the house.

While Sushma Swaraj and senior leader L.K. Advani represented the BJP at the meeting, the CPI-M was represented by Basudeb Acharia.

The bill, to be brought through a constitutional amendment, has the support of the ruling Congress and its allies in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), besides the main opposition BJP and the Left parties. It will need a two-thirds majority to be passed in the lower house.

The UPA, along with the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance and the Left parties can muster the required votes but given the shifting political sands, the Congress, observers say, does not wish to rub the opponents of the bill the wrong way as it sees in them potential allies.

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