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To clear partymen confusion, Sonia to host dinner

By Renu Mittal
March 11, 2010 01:04 IST
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Preparing for the second phase of the battle on the women's reservation bill, Congress president Sonia Gandhi has called her partymen for a dinner on Thursday to 10 Janpath to give them a pep-talk amid reports that a number of MPs are unhappy with the amendment.

The list of invitees includes Congress MPs, ministers and AICC office-bearers.

Besides a pep-talk, the party leadership also wants leaders to take the message of the bill all over the country since the bill would have to be passed by two thirds of the state Assemblies after it is passed in the Lok Sabha.

Since the bill affects MPs in the Lok Sabha as 33 per cent reservation for women would be implemented here, and a large number of MPs are upset at losing their seat, the idea is also to make them realize that their interests would be looked after.

Mamta Banerjee whose party did not participate in the vote in the Rajya Sabha met Congress President Sonia Gandhi at her residence on Wednesday. The Congress' main problem is not that it needs Mamata's support for the women reservation bill since it already has the support of the BJP and the Left and many other smaller parties which supported the legislation in the Rajya Sabha like the BJD, the AIADMK, parts of the JD(U), the TDP and others, but that they need the TMC to be standing next to them on a host of other issues as well.

On record, the Opposition parties are still claiming that they would support each other's cut motions but privately a senior Opposition leader was more candid when he said that cut motions can neither be moved nor carried amid din.

Sources say that while the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) of the Lok Sabha would fix the time and decide when the women reservation bill is to be brought in the Lok Sabha, it is likely that it may be after the recess when the house reconvenes on April 12. It is going into recess on March 16 to enable the standing committees to meet. With just two days next week, the women's bill may only come up after the recess.

This scenario suits the government also, since the guillotine has been fixed aroundĀ April 22 and the government would find it suitable to have an atmosphere of chaos, confusion and contradiction when it brings the finance bill. And what better than the women's bill at that stage to create this atmosphere.

There have been many instances in the past when the Budget has been passed without discussion and there are two instances when the Budget has been passed even after the government fell.

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Renu Mittal in New Delhi
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