With the Congress-led government taking most of the credit for the passage of the Women's Reservation Bill in Rajya Sabha, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday patted its own back for the success and criticised the United Progressive Alliance for the forcible eviction of protesting Members of Parliament from the House.
Despite being in a minority in the Upper House, the Congress-led government and especially party chief Sonia Gandhi earned kudos for passage of the Bill. The BJP, however, said that the Congress showed undue haste by using marshals and trying to put the Bill to vote without a debate. It also said dissenters should have been allowed to vote.
"The government should not have used marshals. It should have tried to exhaust and fatigue the seven MPs who were not leaving the House after suspension. They could have waited till today morning and evicted these members when they went out of the House to attend nature's call or drink water, take medicines, etc," said a senior BJP leader.
The main opposition said since Gandhi wanted the Bill to be passed on Tuesday itself, the Congress top brass was ready to go ahead with the voting, without a discussion.
"Home Minister P Chidambaram told us there cannot be a debate, but we maintained that the Bill cannot be passed without a discussion. Finally the government had to relent," a senior BJP MP said. The praise heaped on Sonia Gandhi for passage of the 108th Constitutional Amendment has irked BJP.
"One should remember Gandhi is not a member of the Upper House. Moreover, the government does not have a two-thirds majority there. We are more in number and the credit should go to all parties," an MP said.
"Since the government was in a minority, the onus of passing the Bill was with us," said a senior BJP leader.
The party also feels the suspension of the seven MPs, who created pandemonium in the House, should be revoked even if they do not apologise but express regret.
"The government should suo motu take back the suspension of the seven MPs, now that the Bill has been passed. There are several instances when the government has revoked suspensions. But it is up to them," Deputy Leader of BJP in Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde said.
The BJP is also miffed at the government not allowing dissenters to vote, saying the protesting MPs should have been called in at the time of voting.
"Arun Jaitley and (Communist Party of India - Marxist leader) Sitaram Yechury had gone out of the Rajya Sabha and called Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Bansal to discuss the issue, but the government did not agree to allow the dissenters to vote. There are precedents when people have come from jails to vote," said a BJP member of the Upper House.
The BJP warned that it will not allow the use of marshals in the Lok Sabha when the Women's Reservation Bill comes up for discussion and passage there.
"We are not in favour of use of force and we will demand that marshals should not be used in the Lok Sabha," Munde said. The BJP will also insist on a debate before voting, he said.