Women's bill stalls parliament

Women's bill stalls parliament

The trouble in the Rajya Sabha and also Lok Sabha began as they assembled after a two-day weekend break forcing adjournment of question hours. The disruption and noisy protests continued as soon as the members in the two houses reassembled again at noon.

In the Lok Sabha, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and RJD president Lalu Prasad joined their party MPs in raising slogans. The lone MP from the Majlis-e Ittihad ul-Muslimin (MIM) Asaduddin Owaisi also joined the protests.

The protesting MPs demanded that the Women's Reservation Bill should ensure a "quota within the quota" for women from backward classes. Speaker Meira Kumar, sensing the mood of the MPs, quickly adjourned the house till 2 p.m. after some official papers were laid on the table.

Earlier in the morning, the house was adjourned till noon after some SP and BSP MPs gathered near the speaker's podium protesting against the bill.

At one stage, Mulayam Singh had a verbal spat with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, the leader of the house. A desperate Mukherjee appealed to Mulayam Yadav with folded hands to end the disruption. Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leader Sharad Yadav, a bitter critic of the bill, was not present in the house.

The protests began soon after the speaker welcomed special guests from the Croatian parliament to watch the house proceedings from a special box and made a reference to the International Women's Day on Monday.

The scenes in the Rajya Sabha were also noisy. The upper house was adjourned for a second time after Samajwadi Party MPs disrupted the proceedings demanding job quotas for Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims.

When the house reassembled at noon, SP members started shouting slogans as some papers were laid on the table. In the event, no one could hear what Deputy Chairman K. Rehman was saying.

Minister for Women and Child Development Krishna Tirath read out a statement on the international Women's Day. The house is scheduled to pass a bill reserving 33 percent seats in all legislatures for women.

But the SP MPs first demanded a discussion on the reports of the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities headed by Justice (retd) Ranganath Misra that favours job quotas for Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians.

The chair ruled this out saying no notice had been served for the debate. As a handful of SP members advanced menacingly towards the presiding officer, the house was adjourned till 2 p.m.

Earlier, when the house assembled at 11, Chairman Hamid Ansari read out a message on the international Women's Day saying that among others "women have to be included in the decision making process"

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