Thursday, May 08, 2008

Government starts to face heat on Women's reservation Bill

In a move that indicates that the Government has apparently not done its homework on getting its allies on board on the move to introduce the Women's Reservation Bill, the Rashtriya Janta Dal (RJD) (whose head Laloo Prasad Yadav and other leaders are part of the Government) has opposed the move by the Government and accused it of taking the action without consulting its allies. The Mandal parties want the women's quota to have sub-quotas for OBC's and Muslims, something that the other parties and many sections of the Congress support base will oppose:

The Rashtriya Janata Dal on Wednesday upped its opposition to the women's reservation Bill threatening to withdraw support to the UPA government if the legislation was not amended to provide sub-quotas for OBCs and Muslims within the generic gender quota in legislatures.
In a development which undercut the PM's effort to dispel the perception of a split in the UPA over the women's quota, the RJD accused the Congress leadership of rushing through the Bill without hammering out a consensus. RJD's aggressive posture was yet another instance of how OBC resentment over the "present form" of women's quota had strained ties between allies. Early on, RJD leadership fielded party MP Devendra Yadav to warn the Congress leadership not to mistake its protest to be just pyrotechnics. Yadav said his party would go to any extent to thwart the passage of the already-delayed legislation.

This reaction was somewhat expected, but there are unexpected movements also happening. First, the RJD is a part of the ruling coalition and is part of the Government, so the fact that it is complaining about the introduction of the legislation means that discussions about this long-delayed bill really did not move to a conclusion.
In addition, there seems to be a sudden amount of tension between the natural allies of SP and the CPM, given that they are on opposite sides of the Bill. Reservation in legislature on the basis of caste and religion are very touchy subjects and will be the first thing to be opposed in court as being unconstitutional.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 8:12 AM