Deadlock over India women's bill

Protests by legislators derail vote on law to reserve parliamentary seats for women.

    Opposition by parties such as the RJD have stalled India's Womens' Reservation bill [Reuters]

    Mulayam Singh Yadav, an SP leader, said: "We are not anti-women but we want reservations for women hailing from minority and backward classes first."

    The vote had been scheduled for Monday to coincide with International Women's Day, but has now been stalled until at least Tuesday.

    Government support

    The bill seeks to provide 33 per cent reservation to women in parliament and state legislatures and has been championed by both Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister, and Sonia Gandhi, the Congress party chief.

    The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has also publicly pledged their support.

    But the bills critics say the legislation, which was first introduced 14 years ago but has been consistently blocked, will be passed at the expense of other minority groups such as Muslims or lower castes.

    The also argue it will only benefit women already in privileged classes.

    A UN report, released on Monday, said that the Asia-Pacific region ranks near the bottom on many women development issues such as political representation, impacting the growth prospects of developing nations.

    Congress weakened

    Separately, the government's loss of support from the SP and RJD, which combined account for 26 seats in the 545-seat lower house, could hinder Congress's ability to push through legislation on economic reforms.

    Since winning a second term last year, Congress is already under fire over a number of issues, including a fuel price increase announced in the February budget.

    "Certainly the party will be weakened for future legislation," Amulya Ganguli, a political analyst, was quoted by the Reuters news agency.

    "The government will need every vote it can."

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Unification: Saladin and the Fall of Jerusalem

    Unification: Saladin and the Fall of Jerusalem

    We explore how Salah Ed-Din unified the Muslim states and recaptured the holy city of Jerusalem from the crusaders.