Mon, 08 Mar 2010 12:10:58 GMT

Why the `Cow Belt’ is crying over Women’s Bill

After 14 years of bitter battle of words and delays, the Government on International Woman’s Day on Monday introduced the Women's Reservation Bill in Parliament sparking an instant uproar in the Rajya Sabha, mainly from the parties in the `Cow Belt’ -- Lalu Prasad’s RJD, Mulayam Singh’s SP and Mayawati’s BSP.

Why the `Cow Belt’ is crying over Women’s Bill

The Rajya Sabha had to be adjourned till noon following the uproar.

But the Government expressed confidence over passage of the Bill saying though it did not want to "bulldoze" those opposing it, they should understand that equality was a fundamental right. It will table the Bill in the afternoon and get it passed.

"I would say that it is a national resolve (to give 33 per cent reservation to women in Lok Sabha and state assemblies). In all these 14 years, it has been waiting. A change has to come and this is the day the change will come," Law Minister M Veerappa Moily told reporters.

"Our idea is not to bulldoze things. In a democracy, differences of opinion will be there, dissent will be there," Moily said, adding that in a country of 600 million people, differences are bound to exist.

"I don't find fault in this but, at the same time, there are 600 million people and you are not in a position to get more than 18.5 per cent into legislatures. You cannot continue this kind of a domain. We need to provide them (women) the succour....Equality is a fundamental right," he said.

The Law Minister said democracy required taking "appropriate decisions at the appropriate time".

The political warlords from the Cow Belt are opposing the Bill on the ground that `upper class' women will make their way to the Parliament, leaving out the Dalits, BCs, SCs, OBC and religious minorities. Hence they want a quota within the 33 percent for Backward Classes, religious minorities and others.

But behind the opposition is the fear that the Bill will see many of their male leaders, especially the noisy brigade, out of parliament.

The Bill has also been opposed by politicians from the socially and economically backward classes. They argue that reservation would only help women of the elitist groups to gain seats. JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav had once said that the Bill would ensure the entry of "par kati" (shorthaired) women in Parliament. Today, his party is divided over `shorthaired' women entering parliament.

Mayawati has taken a step further by demanding a reservation for women from poverty-striken background, including from upper castes.

While the RJD chief dubbed the Bill a "political blunder" and said they would oppose it "tooth and nail and are even prepared to be marshalled out", the SP supremo termed the Bill "dangerous", saying it aimed to stop emergence of leadership among the backwards, minorities and Dalits.

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