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Sonia’s interest in Women’s Bill
Published on 2 Aug. 2010 12:34 AM IST
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Congress president Sonia Gandhi continues to take keen interest in the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill and has been telling activists that they should work on Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee for her support. Mamata’s turnaround on the bill, after initially pledging support, has been a big setback for its proponents. “Mamata ko manao (persuade Mamata)”, she told a delegation that called on her last week to tell her to try and push the bill in the current monsoon session of parliament. Its champions think the bill, which has already been passed in the Rajya Sabha, can muster the two-thirds majority in the Lok Sabha if the floor managers of the ruling party are able to lobby well among the UPA allies, the objections from the Yadav trio (Mulayam, Lalu Prasad and Sharad) notwithstanding.
The BJP, they say, will support, despite its current confrontationist stance against the government, as both Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley are firmly committed to it. The bill aims to reserve 33 percent of seats in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies for women.
Congress MPs are a confused lot, with the first week of the monsoon session of parliament passing off virtually without any business being transacted . It is being said the absence of party president Sonia Gandhi and son Rahul have slowed down the Congress, if not left it rudderless.
Speculation is rife that Sonia along with Rahul last week went off to the United States to attend to her ailing mother Paola Maino, who has been hospitalised.
When asked about the absence of the duo in parliament, party spokespersons played it safe, saying the reasons “may have been very compelling”. However, they gave enough hints that “if Sonia is absent, it means either she is out of Delhi or indisposed.”
As the political scene became surcharged, with the opposition parties stalling parliament over the price rise issue, it was left to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to steer the party.

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