The women's reservation bill appears to have been put on on the backburner for the time being after dissent stared at the face of BJP with some MPs threatening to defy the whip and the Yadav trio stepping up their campaign against the measure.
On a day the BJP, whose support is crucial for passage of the bill in the Lok Sabha, was grappling with the problem of unhappiness among its MPs, a Congress MP also openly expressed views similar to those being voiced by the opponents of the measure. Trouble continued over the measure resulting in disruption of the Lok Sabha for the fourth consecutive day.
In a bid to break the standoff in the House, Leader of the House and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee met with leaders of various parties including Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lalu Prasad and Sharad Yadav, the prominent opponents, and those of allies like Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banjerjee, NCP chief Sharad Pawar and DMK leader T R Baalu.
"Some sort of assurance was sought on the progress of the Constitution Amendment Bill (Women's Bill). Before bringing it to the Lok Sabha, government will complete the process of consultations with all concerned," Mukherjee said in a statement in the Lok Sabha after the meeting.
"I think, this assurance would assuage the feelings of all members who would allow financial business in the remaining period," he said, when the House reassembled at 2 PM after two adjournments.
The government's strategy seemed to be to get the financial business including the voting on appropriation bills before the Lok Sabha adjourns for more than a three-week recess during the current budget session.
On the other hand, the BJP appeared to be engaged in dousing the fire in its parliamentary ranks and decided to issue a whip to get the dissenters to its line on the Bill. Senior leader L K Advani met party MPs to hear their views even as other senior leaders are understood to have talked to the dissenters. But Yogi Adityanath, MP from Gorakhpur, was unfazed and openly defied the party.
"If necessary, the whip could be defied," he said whether he would vote against the party's whip on the women's bill in Lok Sabha. He said the bill was like an "unseasonal" rain that was not not good for the country and there was no no demand for such a legislation from any quarter.
BJP's chief whip Ramesh Bais and former Union Minister Hukumdev Narain Yadav, an old socialist, are also said to be opposed to the bill but today they sang a different tune saying they would abide by the party's decision.
Bais said individual MPs may have different views but they would abide by the party's decision. Yadav said he would also toe the party line but would like the government to listen to the views of the opponents of the measure on providing reservation to women of minorities and OBCs and accommodate their views. PTI