No consensus on women’s bill

The central government Monday said it would continue discussions on the women’s reservation bill, after its meeting with leaders of parties in the Lok Sabha failed to reach a consensus as most opponents stuck to their stated positions.

"Further discussion will continue," the government said in a statement after the nearly two-and-half hour meeting on the contentious bill that provides for 33 percent reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies.

The statement said leaders of various political parties expressed their views on the Constitution (108th Amendment Bill) 2008 at the meeting chaired by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is also leader of the house.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily and Defence Minister A.K. Antony also attended the meeting.

The bill, passed amid uproar in the Rajya Sabha last month, is opposed by the Samajwadi Party (SP), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and a section of the Janata Dal-United (JD-U).

RJD leader Lalu Prasad, a strong opponent of the bill in its present form, said the legislation should provide reservation for Dalits, minorities and the backward castes.

Railway Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee said her party supported the bill but the interest of the minorities should be taken care of.

Ahead of the meeting, Lalu Prasad had said that he and SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav would oppose the bill in its present form.

The government, which faces a bigger opposition to the bill in the Lok Sabha, wants to introduce it in the lower house in the second phase of the budget session that starts April 15. (IANS)


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