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Great step forward for women: Sonia

By Sheela Bhatt
March 09, 2010 18:09 IST
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"This is a great step forward for the women of the country," said United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi and force behind the women's bill. She added lightly that, "of course, with help of the men!"

When the Rajya Sabha was debating the bill, Sonia Gandhi shared her joy with media in the Central Hall of Parliament.

She told select journalists, "I am very happy that the debate has started in the Rajya Sabha."

When asked if the women's bill would pass through the Lok Sabha also, she said, "I am still keeping my fingers crossed."

She also said that she had talked to Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Yadav who is opposing the bill. She said, "I told him your wife has been chief minister. You have seven daughters. What's their view on the bill? Should I try and ring Rabri Devi to lend support to the bill?"

She said Lalu laughed on hearing her suggestion

Sonia regretted that former allies like the RJD are not supporting the bill. She said, "I wish our former allies were with us."

When asked about Trinmool Congress's opposition to the bill, she said that the issue was discussed in the Cabinet and at that time Mamata Banerjee, (Nationalist Congress Party chief) Sharad Pawar and the Darvida Munnetra Kazhagam had agreed.

She also said that core group of the Congress met on Tuesday before the bill was taken up for debate and voting. She refused to divulge any more information.

She refused to take all credit for the bill. She said, "Everybody helped."

When asked if there would be instability in Lok Sabha after the differences over the bill , she said, "I can't say. I am not an astrologer. Let's see."

When asked whether she had to be tough to push ahead with the bill, Gandhi said she was firm. "People mentioned some possible consequences had to be taken into account, I may not have thought of that."

She denied suggestions that Congress was "in a shambles" on the bill on Monday.  "Certain developments took place and we had to face that," she said.

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Sheela Bhatt