New Delhi, Aug. 7: The split within the Janata Dal (United) over creating a separate sub-quota for Other Backward Classes (OBC) in the womens reservation bill was out in the open again on the margins of the partys national executive meeting here.
K.C. Tyagi, the Dal (U) general secretary who briefed journalists, said the party would insist on the sub-quota within the 33 per cent reservation earmarked in the bill.
When the bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha in the last budget session, chief minister Nitish Kumar managed to convince his MPs to vote for it in its existing form, without the sub-quota. Only one MP, Ejaz Ali, defied the whip and voted against the bill. He was expelled.
But today, when party president Sharad Yadav insisted on the sub-quota and declared the members would vote according to their conscience in the Lok Sabha, the division became clear.
The bill is yet to come to the Lower House and might not make it in the ongoing session, principally because neither the BJP nor the Congress is intrinsically one on it.
Tyagi avoided an answer when asked how the Dal(U) could take conflicting stands in the two Houses.
Our party was the first to ask for an OBC sub-quota. Nitish was a member of the parliamentary committee to propose amendments (to the bill). He had appended a dissenting note by demanding a sub-quota. He will meet the press tomorrow (Sunday) and you address your queries to him. When the bill comes (to the Lok Sabha), we will take a stand, he said.
The differences in the Dal (U) have arisen out of the partys dilemma to prioritise its political compulsions: it could not decide whether it made more sense to address the OBC constituency with a greater focus or women in the Bihar elections.
Nitish believes that women would vote him as a gender block because of the perceived success of his gender-friendly policies and schemes.
On the other hand, Sharad Yadav and Tyagi, his loyalist, insist that the interests of the OBCs and minorities must get priority over those of women.