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
"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.