Though the Rajya Sabha passed the historic women's reservation bill, the budget session of Parliament ended on Friday without its introduction in the Lok Sabha, thanks to strong opposition from the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Samajwadi Party and the Janata Dal (United). They were seeking a reservation within the reservation for 'other backward class' women.
The government now says the bill will have to wait for the monsoon session. It thus appears clear that the legislation, endorsed by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi has been traded for the government's survival.
"There couldn't be any talks on the women's reservation bill because Parliament was focussing primarily on the budget," claimed parliamentary affairs minister, Pawan Kumar Bansal on television.
Though the BJP, Left and the Congress passed the bill, the Yadavs comprising SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, and JD-U chief Sharad Yadav, went on the warpath.
But on 27 April when the government faced a cut motion, the Yadavs supported the government. Probably this is why the women's reservation bill never came up in the Lok Sabha during the budget session. "Whatever happened over the cut motion in the Parliament, the women's bill was sacrificed in the process," said leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj.
This set the stage for Mulayam Singh Yadav, and Lalu Prasad Yadav giving up their opposition to the Nuclear Liability Bill on Friday, improving the prospects of its passage, expected in the monsoon session. And the government accepted their demand for a caste census, the first in Independent India.Congress bonhomie with the Yadavs; on Friday,
"Things may not change in the monsoon session either. To get the Yadavs to say yes to other bills, the UPA needs to keep saying no to the quota bill," television channell NDTV reported.
"The Yadavs have controlled the fate of the bill since 1996. And they seem to be back in the driver's seat once again. It seems that shelving the women's bill was the minimum support price the government paid for survival," it reported.