Mayawati ticks off Ansari, takes on government over quota bill
Impatient over the delay in passing a bill that promises reservations for Dalits and tribals in job promotions, BSP chief Mayawati Wednesday tried to hit two birds with one stone by telling Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari that running the house was his responsibility and putting pressure on government by asking her party members not to let the Lok Sabha run.
"She is using pressure tactics by disrupting the Lok Sabha over coal blocks issue so the government pushes the jobs quota bill," a cabinet minister, who did not wish to be named, told IANS.
A day after Ansari suggested scraping or shifting the question hour as members were regularly disrupting the proceedings, Mayawati stunned the upper house by telling the chairman that running the house smoothly was his responsibility.
"You will go (away) at 12... (The) house should run. To ensure this is your responsibility. When it will be 12, then you will not be seen," she said.
Mayawati later defended her remarks and accused the government of not being serious about passing the bill.
She said both the government and "BJP and company" had assured that the bill on would be taken up after the house debated foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail.
Under rules and conventions, members are not allowed to cast aspertions on the chair.
The chairman presides over the question hour while zero hour and subsequent proceedings are generally conducted by the deputy chairman.
Both the Congress and the BJP termed Mayawati's remark on Ansari as unfortunate.
"It is unfortunate (Mayawati made the remarks)...the chairman made certain observations Tuesday, we should watch our conduct," Congress spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP Renuka Chowdhury told reporters.
BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said: "It is unfortunate. The government is responsible for the situation."
The upper house has witnessed repeated disruptions over the past week over the constitution amendment bill on promotion quotas.
While the BSP is pressing the government to pass the bill so that Mayawati can showcase it as a victory to her voters in UP, the SP is dead opposed to the legislation to keep its other backward classes OBCs vote bank intact.
The Congress is in a bind as both the SP and BSP helped the United Progressive Alliance win the crucial vote on allowing 51 percent foreign direct investment in multi brand retail in parliament last week.
Congress managers have been trying hard to end the logjam over the jobs quota bill but have achieved little success so far.
An all-party meeting called by Ansari failed to find a solution.
Government sources said they were still hopeful of working out a compromise formula but agreed that SP was proving to be a tough customer.
The Congress tried to hit the middle ground by saying the bill was an emotive issue for both the SP and BSP but said it was different from FDI in retail.
"It is an emotive issue in a large state like UP but it is different from the FDI issue," said Chowdhury.
The Congress also said it cannot force its views on any other party (read SP).
"It is not for us to spell out our stand and force it down on any other party," she said.