NEW DELHI (TIP): Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s firminsistence that the quota in promotions bill be consideredon Thursday led to repeated adjournments in the LokSabha as the opposition’s expectations that Houseproceedings will end by noon did not materialize.Determined to signal Congress’s commitment to the bill,Sonia stayed put in the Lok Sabha through the day, herfront row seat a focus for animated discussions involvingsenior ministers and MPs.
She made it plain that the partymust press for the bill’s passage.Even during breaks in proceedings, the Congress chiefwas seen in the Central Hall of Parliament with a retinueof MPs as her refusal to give the green signal to Congressfloor managers meant the House kept meeting at shortintervals amid protests by Samajwadi Party and BJP MPs.Sonia seemed to have anticipated BSP leader Mayawati’scharge that the government had engaged in a farce. “If thegovernment wanted to get the bill passed, it could have,”Mayawati alleged. The BSP chief even came to the LokSabha visitors’ gallery to watch the House.With BJP MPs also entering the well later in the day,Congress was quick to point out that the main Opposition’ssupport for the bill is insincere.
BJP MPs feel their stancewas politically beneficial, but some wondered if the partythat banks on upper caste support could translate it intovotes.Sonia’s tough stance saw BJP veteran L K Advani beingdenied an opportunity to make an intervention. Advanirose to make a point with a copy of the Constitution inhand as Congress’s dalit leader P L Punia was speaking.Punia refused to yield and no senior minister intervenedas Congress MPs clearly sensed Sonia’s unyielding mood.This led to the open revolt against the bill among BJP MPs- blessed by senior leaders – spilling into the well of theHouse.