All-party meet on Women's Bill fails to reach consensus

All-party meet on Women's Bill fails to reach consensus

The running differences on the Bill may delay its immediate introduction in the Lok Sabha in the second half of the Budget session, resuming on April 15.

The problem for the ruling Congress, keen on pushing the Bill through the Lok Sabha during the current session, increased with ally Trinamool Congress also backing quota for Muslim women. The Bahujan Samaj Party is also part of the pro-minority quota faction, opposing the Bill in its current form.

The meeting was called by Union Finance Minister  Pranab Mukherjee. The Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha in March with the controversial use of marshals against opposition from the SP, RJD and a section of JD(U) members. The Monday meeting, however, agreed that that no force be used if and when the bill is to be introduced in the Lower House.

During the two-hour discussion, Mukherjee is understood to have sought leaders of the SP, RJD and the JD(U) to show flexibility, “but their stand remain unchanged.”  Trinamool Congress leader Mamta Banerjee separately met the Yadavs to support  the demand for quota for Muslim women.

Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, who also attended the meeting, said while the BJP was for consensus on the issue, it was “totally against quota within quota.”

As an indication that new options could be worked out, Swaraj said her party would support any proposal for reservation as per the formula prescribed by M S Gill as Chief Election Commissioner. Gill’s proposal makes it binding on political parties to give quota to women during ticket distribution. Parties led by the three Yadavs are inclined to support this proposal.

The CPM sought to know as how quota within quota could be supported as there was no constitutional provision of reservation for OBC or minorities. CPM leader Basudeb Acharya said his party was not opposed to it and “if a proposal comes then it can be considered.” He, however, favoured passing the Bill in its current form.

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