Women's quota bill to be tabled in LS

The move is being seen as an attempt by the governemnt to ward off any further call of unity by the opposition on the issue. The call of unity earlier saw the Opposition parties consolidate their stands on the issue of corruption that forced the government to set up a JPC probe into the 2G spectrum allocation scam.

President Pratibha Patil during the joint address to Parliament recently expressed the hope that the women reservation bill would be considered by the Lok Sabha at the earliest.

The proposed bill is likely to be tabled in Lok Sabha on March 8, which coincides with International Women’s Day, government sources said here. “Government accords high priority to the (passage of) the bill,” sources pointed out.

The constitutional amendment seeking to provide reservation to women in Lok Sabha and state Assemblies, has always remained a hurdle before Opposition unity.

According to sources, BJP and Left parties have assured support for the legislation. But the main Opposition insisted that the House should be in “extreme order” when the bill was brought before it, sources added.

There is a realisation within the government, drawing flak over the issues of corruption, price rise and black money, that any unanimity among the Opposition on the bill is unlikely. It feels that tempers are still running high in some of the political parties over the scope of the pending bill. Janata Dal(U), Samajwadi Party (SP) and RJD are opposed to the passage of the bill in its present form. They have been demanding a quota for OBCs and minorities within the women’s quota.

It may recalled that despite strong opposition from Janata Dal (U), RJD and Samajwadi Party (SP), the bill was passed in Rajya Sabha on March 9, last year after the BJP and Left parties extended support to it under a common cause with the Congress. With the ghost of the Bofors still on mind, the Congress seems to be planning to use the bill to ward off any further unity call among Opposition parties by creating fissures within their ranks, sources said.

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