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Stalemate in Sonia Mamata quota meet
Published on 11 Mar. 2010 11:03 PM IST
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The fate of the Women’s Bill still hangs in balance with no end to the stalemate in discussions between Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee. Sources have told NDTV that Mamata stuck to her demand for a minority quota in the Bill when the two met on Wednesday evening. But Gandhi said that’s not possible and there is no question of bringing in a minority quota within this Bill. With the Bengal government announcing a 10 per cent Muslim quota, Mamata cannot afford to be outdone by the Left as the state prepares for Assembly elections next year. The Trinamool had abstained from voting on the Women’s Bill on Tuesday. The Congress’ biggest ally in the Lok Sabha, Mamata Banerjee, who had initially approved the Bill in the Union Cabinet, said she supports the Bill in principle, but would decide on the stand her party will take in Lok Sabha when it comes up for voting. Even Sonia Gandhi has expressed surprise with Mamata’s summersault. In an exclusive interview to NDTV’s Barkha Dutt, the UPA chairperson said Mamata was very enthusiastic about the Bill at the cabinet. She had also said there was nothing to prevent political parties from giving seats to Muslims and OBCs within the 33 per cent quota. On Wednesday, in an attempt to downplay the rift, Banerjee said she felt the Prime minister should have held an all-party meeting on Tuesday before the bill was put to vote. The Women’s Bill, passed by the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday evening amid drama and chaos, sets aside 33 per cent of the seats in Parliament and state Assemblies for women. Its most prominent opponents are Mulayam and Lalu Yadav, who have threatened to withdraw support to the government over the issue. They feel the bill does not protect the interests of Dalits and Muslims. The Women’s Reservation Bill may have crossed the first hurdle, but the battle is only just beginning for the government. The challenge now is to get it passed by the Lok Sabha where it is likely to face even stronger opposition than what was seen in the Rajya Sabha over the past two days. Women’s Bill - the process here on: The Bill goes to Lok Sabha where it has to be passed by two third majority The Bill then goes to 28 Assemblies; 15 Assemblies must ratify it with two third majority This is followed by a final approval by the President But it’s now virtually certain that the Bill won’t come up in the present session, something that Sonia Gandhi indicated in her first exclusive interview to NDTV. So let’s take a look at why the Bill is now likely to only come up in April: Parliament goes into a month-long recess on March 15 Parliament comes back after the recess on the April 12 Only two working days are left in the current session, today and tomorrow, and in these two days the Finance Bill and Railway Budget have to be passed.

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