PM assures of obtaining consensus on Women Quota Bill: Amar Sing

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New Delhi, May 10 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today assured the Samajwadi Party that the Women's Quota Bill would be passed only after obtaining political consensus.

The assurance was given to SP General Secretary Amar Singh who met Dr Singh at his residence here to lodge his party's protest against the present format of the Bill.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, the SP leader said the party also expressed their strong reservations over the way the bill was brought in Parliament on the last day of its session through the ''backdoor''.

He said the Prime Minister after listening to his party's objections said the government would consult all political parties to seek a consensus before passing the Bill.

Mr Amar Singh said the Women's Reservation Bill has been brought in the same way as the Bill for removal of AIIMS Director Prof Venugopal. ''Then I was the chairman of the Standing Committee on Health, and wanted the Bill to be referred to it but the legislation was passed in haste. I had even offerred to resign over the issue, but it was Brinda Karat who prevented me from doing so,'' he said.

He said he also urged the Prime Minister to establish the sanctity of the Standing Committee.

The Bill in its present form was anti-democratic, and that was not only the view of the Samajwadi Party members but of many MPs cutting across party lines, said Mr Singh.

He claimed that several women MPs like Maneka Gandhi and Shobhan Bhartiya had told him that they were against the Bill in its present form, and Ms Gandhi had even said she would vote against the Bill in Parliament.

BJP MP Vinay Katiyar and even BSP Members in Parliament were also against the Bill, and the RJD had already made its position known on the issue, he said, adding, ''In fact a polarisation between anti- and pro-reservationists was taking place.'' Repying to a question, Mr Singh said his party was greatly pained over the unity among the Congress, the Left and the BJP over the Bill seen on the day it was introduced.

''We are not alienated with the Left over the issue, but only hurt over their stand. They are our allies on so many issues like price rise among others. So it would be wrong to say that their stance over the Bill had created a wedge between us. We will soon discuss the issue with CPI(M) leader Prakash Karat,'' he said.

In reply to a question, he said the party would participate in any talk on the Indo-US nuclear deal if invited by the UPA government. So far, we have been discussing this subject only with the Left as we are not part of any official mechanism,'' said the SP leader.

Replyig to another question, he said besides the Women Reservation Bill, he also took up with the Prime Minister the issue of withdrawal of security cover from the SP leaders by the Mayawati government in Uttar Pradesh and submitted to him the copies of the intelligence reports indicating the threat to their lives.

UNI NAZ HS KN1916

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