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Saathi's peace efforts prove futile

By Our Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI, MARCH 23.

High drama was witnessed inside the room of the Finance Minister, Mr. Mahinder Singh Saathi, before the commencement of the House proceedings. It saw a virtual clash between the Social Welfare Minister, Ms. Krishna Tirath, and the Congress(I) MLA, Mr. Mukesh Sharma, over the Women Reservation Bill and the Senior Citizens Honour Bill.

It is learnt Mr. Saathi has called a meeting of the Ministers to discuss the issue of debate and passage of the Women Reservation Bill, introduced by Mr. Sharma during the last session. The meeting was also to take up the issue of the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara (Amendment) Bill, 2001, moved by Mr. Arvinder Singh Lovely. Both MLAs were also summoned for the meeting which was also attended by the Health Minister, Dr. A.K. Walia, and the Power Minister, Dr. Narendra Nath.

As soon as the meeting began, Ms. Tirath objected to the Senior Citizens Honour Bill 2001 being brought by Mr. Sharma and said some of the provisions already existed and steps were being taken by her Department for their implementation. She said the Bill had nothing new and some of the provisions could even be implemented by invoking an office order.

Ms. Tirath said the Government was also contemplating bringing such a legislation in the House and it was already under preparation. But this was objected to by Mr. Sharma who said the Bill had various provisions to provide relief to senior citizens and no such facility was being provided at present. He contested the claim of the Minister that certain provisions were being implemented. He is learnt to have told Ms. Tirath to do her homework before speaking on the issue. Before the situation could go out of hand, Mr.Saathi and Dr. Walia intervened and cooled tempers.

Soon after the discussion shifted to the Women Reservation Bill. The Minister said the Government proposed to bring a comprehensive legislation and the member should withdraw his Bill. Mr. Sharma countered the Minister and said it was the commitment of the party president, Ms. Sonia Gandhi to give reservation to women and the Government should adopt his Bill. This led to heated exchanges and ultimately Mr. Saathi decided that the Bill could be debated in the House and, if need be, it could be referred to the Select Committee.

On The Delhi Sikh Gurudwara (Amendment) Bill, 2001, Mr. Lovely argued that his legislation was not a copy of any earlier Bill. It had three different unique clauses. He said it was important to introduce the Bill as it would put the BJP in the dock as they had failed to get the previous amendment through despite being in power at the Centre. Mr. Lovely was of the view that the amendments proposed would send a right signal to the Sikh community and make clear that the Congress(I) was committed to protecting their rights.

After a lot of deliberations, the four Ministers gave their nod for introduction of the Bill. But all the arguments and protests proved futile as their own party members sabotaged their Bills by not letting the House function.

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