RJD now bats for women's quota

SISTERS IN ARMS: Women RJD MLCs at the Legislative Council on Thursday. Picture by Manoj Kumar

Patna: The RJD, which had opposed the Women's Reservation Bill in the Rajya Sabha - demanding quota within quota - appears to have reviewed its stand as its women MLAs joined the demand to pass the Bill in the Lok Sabha.

On the occasion of International Women's Day, women MLAs joined hands in the Assembly to demand passage of the Women's Reservation Bill in Lok Sabha.

Sixteen women legislators belonging to the RJD, BJP, JDU and the Congress were in the Assembly. They voiced their demands both inside and outside the House.

The Women's Reservation Bill aiming to reserve 35 per cent seats in all legislative bodies for women was passed in the Rajya Sabha during the UPA regime. The Narendra Modi government has so far not made any move to get the bill passed in the Lok Sabha.

The moment the Assembly started business, Speaker Vijay Kumar Choudhary said it being Women's Day questions raised by women legislators would be taken up first. But the women MLAs stormed into the well of the House demanding passage of the Women's Reservation Bill in Lok Sabha. The Speaker reminded all that this was not the right House to raise the demand.

But RJD and BJP members got into a war of words when road construction minister Nand Kishore Yadav questioned the RJD's stand. "The BJP has been in favour of the Bill. But the RJD opposed it," Nand Kishore said. "We've given India women foreign and defence ministers, apart from chief ministers."

RJD MLA Bhola Yadav shot back saying: "We gave Bihar its first woman chief minister (Rabri Devi)." He also accused him of trying to politicise the issue. "Your party has a government in New Delhi and in Patna. It's a double engine government. Ask your government in Delhi to introduce the Bill in Lok Sabha and we will support it." Nand Kishore said it hardly mattered if Bhola Yadav spoke in favour of the Bill. "Approval should come from the top (Lalu and Tejashwi)," he said.

RJD MLA Ejya Yadav asked the state government to appoint a woman deputy chief minister.

The Speaker controlled the situation saying men were hijacking the women's agenda. The House was brought to order and 10 women MLAs asked questions in which ministers took extra effort to assure them their work will be done. The Speaker said JDU MLA Ranju Geeta would preside over the House proceedings in the post-lunch session.


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