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Quota bill slowed, numbers game in Lok Sabha make UPA apprehensive
Published on 11 Mar. 2010 12:36 AM IST
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The UPA government has decided to go slow on the women’s reservation bill. They might not table it in Lok Sabha in this session. With shrinking numbers, RJD and SP threatening withdrawal of support, and Mamata being upset, the bill and the government’s future strategy seem uncertain. The celebration may not spill over to Lok Sabha. Ironically, despite having more numbers it could be more difficult for the UPA government to press the button on the bill. The first hurdle is ally Mamata Banerjee of Trinamool Congress which has 19 MPs in Lok Sabha. She refused to allow her MPs to vote for the bill in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday. More than anything else, she is allergic to Left parties and cannot tolerate growing intimacy between Left parties and the UPA government. After the bill was passed in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, an angry Mamata Bannerjee had asked, “Left has no credit. Why are they taking credit.” And, then it’s the Yadav trio. Taken together, they account for 46 MPs. RJD and SP have already threatened to withdraw support to the UPA government. Hence, with the finance bill in the House, the UPA managers will prefer a go-slow for now. With the mood in the House not conducive, sources say the government will buy time before presenting the bill in Lok Sabha. Since rule allows the bill to be tabled anytime during the government’s five-year term, it may stretch to as late as 2014, just before the next Lok Sabha polls. However, the bill is dear to Sonia who is confident of the bill getting through in Lok Sabha as well. But then for UPA2, it’s equally important to push through with bold and reform policies. Parliamentary Affairs Minister P.K. Bansal, on the other hand said the bill would be passed in the lower house before March 16 when parliament goes for a three-week recess and resumes April 12. “We intend to get the bill passed in the Lok Sabha before March 16,” Bansal told IANS. Official sources said the Business Advisory Committee of the Lok Sabha will meet Friday to decide tabling of the bill in the house next week. As the Trinamool’s, which has crucial 19 MPs in the Lok Sabha and is the biggest ally of the UPA, stand remains unclear, Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily said “the government will manage to get the support of all its allies. We will manage the family.” Shrinking majority Before Bill: UPA with outside Support: 321 After Bill: SP and RJD withdraw support - 26 UPA can’t bank on BSP - 21 UPA left with exact half-way mark of 274 BJP, SP, RJD demand Demands over the withdrawal of suspension of seven dissenters who were muscled out by marshals from the Rajya Sabha Tuesday also grew Wednesday. The BJP and the Left parties, which support the bill, also called for revocation of the suspension of the members mainly from the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) who were suspended and evicted for unruly behaviour in the upper house. Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said the government should bring a motion and withdraw the suspension. He said the members should meet chairman Hamid Ansari and “make amends for what happened”. He was supported by Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Sitaram Yechury. But the parliamentary affairs minister said the government would consider the revocation only if the suspended MPs express their regrets to the chairman. “It (the suspension) was a well considered action as they (the members) had insulted the dignity of the house. The minimum thing is to go to the chairman,” Bansal told reporters. RJD member Prem Chand Gupta disagreed saying it was not correct to insist on an apology from the members as “whatever happened, took place in particular circumstances”. NPCC welcomes Meanwhile, Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC) has welcomed the passing of the Women’s Reservation Bill in the Rajya Sabha with “utmost pleasure” as it would give women adequate representation. NPCC vice president Khriedi Theünuo in a statement said that the passing of the bill would also have “tremendous impact” on the role of women in the Naga society, which would contribute towards overcoming various discriminations against them. NPCC also congratulated AICC president and UPA chairperson, Sonia Gandhi and prime minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh for “striving through the hard moment in paving way to liberate and empower Indian women towards nation building.”

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