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Home > India > News > Interview

The Rediff Interview/Davinder Prasad Yadav, RJD MP

'We won't yield one inch on the women's bill'

May 28, 2008

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Davinder Prasad Yadav is particular that he is not mistaken for the other D P Yadav, the Uttar Pradesh politician whose son was found guilty on May 28 in the murder of Nitish Katara.

He is the deputy leader of the Rashtriya Janata Dal in the Rajya Sabha and makes sure that his credentials are correctly noted. He says his mother who passed away on May 9 had entrusted him the task of ensuring that the bill dealing with the empowerment of the weaker sections of society is passed as early as possible.

Yadav, a member of the Parliamentary committee assigned to study the women's reservation bill, told Onkar Singh, "This is a tricky bill and has been pending for the last ten years. I am not sure if it will go through even now."

You held the first meeting on the women's reservation bill on Tuesday. What was the outcome?

The bill was discussed at length. Jayanti Natarajan put forth her point of view. I made my observations. Some members assured me that at the end of the day that the bill would go through.

Is it true that some members wanted the implementation to be left to the Election Commission?

Yes, some members did feel that if there is no consensus then the matter should be left to the Election Commission to find out who has implemented the 33 per cent reservation or not and then take action against those who have not implemented it.

Is it true that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi [Images] pleaded with your leader Lalu Yadav to allow the bill to be tabled?

This is not true. We said what we had to say. There is a wrong impression that our party is anti-reservation and we would not let this take place. We got elected on the mandate of social justice and empowerment of backward class women.

Laluji has never been against reservation for backward class women, particularly those belonging to SC (Scheduled Castes), ST (Scheduled Tribes) and other backward classes.

Why are you against the bill?

Let me clarify again that we are not against the bill. In the Constitution of India there is no mention of the creamy layer and yet the Supreme Court added the word creamy layer. So why not apply the creamy layer in this case as well so that the likes of Jayanti Natarajan, Sushma Swaraj and others do not get the benefit of belonging to the creamy layer.

Do you see any hope about the passage of the bill?

The bill has been referred to the select committee to find an acceptable solution to the problem. It is a tricky bill that has been pending for almost ten years.

Which other parties have taken a similar stand as your party has done?

Those who are with us are the Samajwadi Party, BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party), JD-U (Janata Dal-United), PMK (Pattali Makkal Katchi) and DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazagham). The last time (the bill was introduced in Parliament, current Bihar Chief Minister) Nitish Kumar marked his resentment on the ground of the social composition of Parliament and legislatures.

Are you studying the reservation in various parts of the county and noting down your findings?

We have a 26 member delegation -- ten from the Rajya Sabha and 16 from the Lok Sabha. Five more vacancies are yet to be filled. Of course, we will go around the country to study panchayat systems (where reservations for women have been implemented) and see how it works. The second meeting of the committee will take place on June 3.

Why do you feel it will be difficult to pass the bill?

This is a Constitutional amendment bill and you need a two thirds majority to pass the bill. If the government does not accommodate our point of view and give seats to SC, ST, OBC (Other Backward Classes) women under this bill, then we may ask for a split of votes and this would not be good for the health of the UPA government.

What do you think of the ongoing agitation by the Gujjar community? Do you think they deserve ST status?

Gujjars are a nomandic tribe who produce wealth. They supply milk to people living in the high altitudes, to the army's jawans for their morning cup of tea. They have done yeoman service to the people of India. They need to be treated better, particularly in view of their contribution to the freedom struggle.

Any chance of your party changing stance on the women's bill?

We are not going to yield one inch on this issue. We want social justice for backward women more than anything else.

The Rediff Interviews