Unprecedented drama marks introduction of Women Quotas Bill in RS

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New Delhi, May 6 (UNI) A jampacked Rajya Sabha today witnessed unprecedented drama during the introduction of the controversial and long-awaited Women's Reservation Bill with the protesting Samajwadi Party members coming almost to blows with the ruling UPA colleagues in trying to snatch the bill from Law Minister Hansraj Bhardwaj.

The legislation was cleared by the Cabinet in an emergency meeting last night.

The Bill was introduced in the Upper House today as the Lok Sabha had already been adjourned sine die yesterday.

The atmosphere in the House, which today found itself overpopulated with several Lok Sabha members, including several Cabinet Ministers, also present, was already charged as it reassembled at 1200 hrs after the adjournment forced by SP members during the Question Hour over the reported statement of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray against north Indians.

The Samajwadi Party, which had already declared its intention to oppose the Bill, added the demand of withdrawal of the bill with that of the arrest of Mr Thackeray as soon as the Zero Hour began.

Prof P J kurien, who was in the chair, asked the protesting Members to go back to their seats telling them that he was giving them time to speak after the documents were tabled in the House.

However, the Members, who had by this time come into the well of the House, were in no mood to listen, and as soon as Prof Kurien asked the Law Minister to introduce the Constitution 108th Amendment Bill providing for 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament and state legislatures, all of them rushed towards the seat of Mr Bhrdawaj and tried to santch the Bill from him.

Minister for Women and Child Development Renuka Choudhary and a few more Ministers soon came up and tried to create a protective wall around the Law Minister, but the SP members, especially Abu Asim Azim, was successful in reaching up to the Minister and a scuffle followed between the SP and UPA members and they almost came to blows.

Some of the SP members were successful in tearing down some documents.

JD(U) Member Sharad Yadav was also seen protesting against the Bill, though he did not leave his seat.

While all this was going on, Prof P J Kurein, who was in the Chair, asked for the consent of the House to introduce the Bill, which he got from all members except the SP and the JD(U) by a voice vote.

By this time, protesting Mr Azmi had been overpowered by the UPA members and disengaged from the Law Minister.

However, as the continuing din and pandemonium made any business impossible, the Chair announced adjournment of the House till 1400 hrs.

The Women's Reservation Bill was first introduced in Parliament by the Deve Gowda Government in 1996. Then the NDA Government tried to introduce it four times 1998, 1999, 2002 and 2003.

The Samajawadi Party, along with the RJD and JD(U) is against the Bill in its present form. The BSP also wants some amendments, but it did not oppose introduction of the Bill in the House today.

UNI NAZ PK GC1402

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