Lalu does volte-face, promises support for women’s bill


New Delhi : The much-delayed women’s reservation bill, expected to be introduced in the Rajya Sabha Tuesday, is likely to face one hurdle less with Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader and Railways Minister Lalu Prasad Monday giving up his 12-year-old opposition to it.

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“Hum laagu karwaaenge (I will get it passed),” Lalu Prasad told NDTV TV news channel.

This comes as a surprise to many as Lalu Prasad’s party has vociferously opposed the bill over the years, demanding that it should have ‘quota within quota’ for Other Backward Class (OBC) women.

Lalu Prasad, who said he would support the bill in its present form, said the quota-within-quota should be implemented sometime in the near future through an amendment in the women’s reservation bill.

Earlier Monday, the Congress admitted that some political parties continued to have reservations over the legislation favouring 33 percent quota for women in parliament and assemblies.

“It cannot be denied that people do have reservations on the issue. Once we have resolved these differences and reached a consensus, the government can present the women’s reservation bill,” Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari told reporters.

The bill was tabled in the Lok Sabha for the first time Sep 12, 1996 by the H.D. Deve Gowda government. Since then, it has been tabled in parliament several times but has been scuttled by political parties opposed to the idea. Other than the RJD, the parties that have opposed the bill in the past are Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and Samajwadi Party.

Sharad Yadav of the JD-U told reporters: “We want a quota within the quota in the women’s reservation bill to include those women who belong to OBCs.”