Akhilesh Yadav, chief of the SP’s Uttar Pradesh unit, tells Neha Dixit how the UPA is misleading the nation on the Women’s Reservation Bill
Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and RJD chief Lalu Prasad have called the Women’s Reservation Bill a political conspiracy.
The Samajwadi Party is not against the Bill. Of course, the Bill in its present form is a conspiracy to keep out the minorities. The BJP and the Congress are scared of the mettle of backward class leaders like Lalu Yadav, Mulayam Singh and Ram Vilas Paswan. Hence, they are hesitating to include reservation of backward classes in the women’s Bill. SP also wants the upliftment of women. We are only asking for the inclusion of Dalits, Muslims and minorities.
But by opposing the Bill, you are dismissing reservation for women altogether.
Reservation for women has to be party-based. Women should get 50 percent reservation in government jobs. Parties should take the initiative to reserve tickets for women from all strata of society. All parties issue tickets to those with money and muscle power. We are demanding this should change.
We don’t want to see wives of bureaucrats occupying seats in Parliament. The whole purpose will be defeated then. Hence, women’s empowerment is only possible if 33 percent of tickets in each party are reserved for women.
All major parties including the BJP, Congress and the Left are criticising the SP’s stand.
The Left’s opposition is totally political. The BJP and Congress support the Bill but they need to answer a question: till date, why has Parliament not seen a single Muslim MP elected from Orissa, Punjab, Uttaranchal or Madhya Pradesh? With this sort of non-representation of minorities, who will guarantee representation of women from the backward classes? Clearly, it is not possible.
The BJP was supporting the Bill but is now demanding a debate. I know several Congress MPs who have, off the record, told me that they too disagree with the Bill. They too demand reservation for Muslims and Dalits.
‘Several Congress MPs have, off the record, told me that they too disagree with the Bill’
Who are these Congress MPs?
I can’t name them as Congress is dictatorial. It has a system of firing dissenters.
But the first woman Lok Sabha Speaker, Meira Kumar, is also a Dalit.
Both Meira Kumar and President Pratibha Patil have been elected to their respective offices on merit. Meira Kumar has risen to that position through her efforts, not through reservation. Congress has a history of not giving tickets to women. They are merely misleading the nation.
Will SP’s withdrawal of support to UPA make any difference to the Bill?
If nothing else, it will at least expose them. All those in the Congress who are pompously sleeping and eating at Dalit homes must understand that this will not make any difference to their lives. The Dalits and minorities must be given adequate representation for their progress. We were supporting the Congress because we wanted the BJP to stay out of power. We were supporting it for secular values. However, there is no option but to withdraw if it chooses to ignore those values.