Plagued by differences, a meeting of the JD(U) MPs on Monday failed to take a common stand on the Women's Reservation Bill but a majority of the party MPs in the upper House are set to vote in favour of the Bill.
Sources in the party said that five of the seven party MPs in the Rajya Sabha have agreed to vote in favour of the Bill.
Two others include George Fernandes, who is unlikely to make it to the House due to illness and expelled MP Ejaj Ali, whose term is expiring in a few months. Ali said he would vote against the Bill.
The sources said though the decision to vote in favour of the Bill in the Upper House is final, the middle-rung party leaders are still making consultations to persuade the party chief, who is a Lok Sabha MP, to accept the changed stand "in view of the changed circumstances and political pragmatism". After a meeting of the JD(U) Parliamentary party at JD(U) President Sharad Yadav's house here this morning, senior leader Shivanand Tiwari said, "We have not been able to take any decision as of now as many of the MPs were not present in the Parliamentary Party meeting".
Though JD(U) has traditionally been opposed to the Bill in its present form and has been asking for quota within quota for Dalits and minorities, differences could be seen among party MPs after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar supported the bill. Kumar had a word with Yadav yesterday over the issue and is likely to discuss the issue with him once more today before the party announces its final decision here.
The sources said there is no consideration in the party for allowing members in Rajya Sabha to vote as per their conscience and everybody will be explained the party line one hour before the voting starts.
Asked whether a shift was visible within the party, Tiwari said, "The situation has changed a bit. But we are yet to take a decision". He said veteran party MP Ram Sundar Das has been requested to speak to both Yadav and Kumar to arrive at a decision. "If we fail to receive any direction from Yadav and Nitish, then all the party Rajya Sabha members will meet among themselves just an hour before voting on the bill in Parliament and take a decision," Tiwari said.
Apart from Tiwari, the Parliamentary party meeting was attended by Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs -- Ram Sundar Das, Rajiv Ranjan Singh Lalan, Sharad Yadav, Ali Anwar, N K Singh and Anil Kumar Sahani. PTI