Centre ready for all-party meet to discuss Women's Reservation Bill: Pranab Mukherjee

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New Delhi, Mar 11 (ANI): Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday said the Central Government is ready to call for an all-party meeting to discuss the Women's Reservation Bill.

"Leaders from all political outfits will be called for the meeting," said Mukherjee.

"Several other issues would also be discussed in the all-party meeting," he added.

Countering the charges made by Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lalu Prasad Yadav and Sharad Yadav that the bill is discriminatory against Dalits, OBCs and minorities, Mukherjee said, "The fact of the matter is that on this issue there are divergent views. There were discussions, we could not, unfortunately, reach at a conclusion, although various attempts were made."

"You stated that an all-party meet be called. There is no harm in calling an all-party meet. The government has made it clear that various options can be explored to narrow down differences," he stressed.

All these issues can be raised, can be debated and can be decided by the 543 members sitting here belonging to different political parties but opposition must allow the house conduct normal business. Nothing can be achieved by stalling the proceedings," he added

The Central Government is unlikely to put it to vote in the Lok Sabha before the crucial finance bill (Budget) is out of the way, which could be around the third week of April.

The government might introduce the women's bill on March 15 or 16, after the vote on accounts and before the Lok Sabha breaks for a three-week recess - to allow House committees to go through the voluminous budget proposals.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday in a bid to keep the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) intact met Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, who was upset at the exclusion of minorities from the one-third reservation for women.

UPA alliance partners like the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) that are against the Bill comprises 47 MPs in the Lok Sabha.

If these alliances withdraw their support, the Congress-led UPA Government would be left with only 274 members in the 543-member House.

History was created in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday when it voted by an overwhelming majority a Bill to reserve one-third of seats in Lok Sabha and Assemblies for women after government pushed ahead with it, ignoring possible threats to its stability and after eviction of troublesome MPs opposed to it.Fourteen years after the first attempt was made in the Lok Sabha and repeated failures subsequently, the Constitution amendment bill was adopted in the mandatory division with 186 members voting for it and one voting against.

In the 245-member House with an effective strength of 233, the bill required the backing of at least 155 members and the UPA had the clear support of 165 in the run up to the event.

The bill seeks to reserve for women 181 of the 543 seats in the Lok Sabha and 1,370 out of a total of 4,109 seats in the 28 State Assemblies. (ANI)

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