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After Lokpal, hope floats for quota in women's bill

Sunday December 25, 2011 06:46:03 PM, Amit Agnihotri, IANS

New Delhi: With the government conceding to quota for the Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), backwards classes and minorities in the Lokpal bill, the Yadav camp in parliament is hopeful that a similar demand on the women's reservation bill could be met.

United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi has said she will fight for both the Lokpal bill and the women's reservation bill, which seeks to reserve 33 percent seats for women in parliament and state legislatures. The women's quota bill has been hanging fire in the Lok Sabha due to stiff opposition from the Yadav trio -- Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, Janata Dal-United (JD-U) chief Sharad Yadav and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav.

The three have been demanding a "quota within quota" for backward, SC, ST and minority within the 33 percent reservation proposed.

The bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha amid high drama in March 2010.

Samajwadi Party general secretary Mohan Singh said with the government giving in to their demand for quota in the Lokpal, there was hope for the passage of the women's reservation bill.

"If the government is keen on passing the bill, it should agree to our demand," Singh told IANS.

He said just like the women's bill, the government was initially reluctant on quota in the Lokpal bill.

He said had the government agreed to their demand earlier, the women's bill would have become a reality today.

RJD Lok Sabha MP Uma Shankar Singh too felt his party's demand would now carry more weight. "We hope our demand on the women's bill will be considered by the government," he said.

However, JD-U chief Sharad Yadav said the two issues should be seen in a different light.

"There is vast difference between reservation and representation," Yadav told IANS, adding "the women's bill is a complex issue".

The Lokpal bill proposes 50 percent reservation for the SC, ST, backwards, minorities and women in the eight-member panel of the anti-graft ombudsman.

However, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) expressed scepticism over the issue.

"We do have hope on the women's bill, but it is too early to talk about quota in Lokpal bill as it is yet to be cleared by parliament," BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said.

Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi said: "We need to build a consensus on the issue among parties and need to find constitutional options."

(Amit Agnihotri can be contacted at









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