Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday admitted that sharp differences prevailed in the Janata Dal - United over the Women's Reservation Bill, but ruled out reports of a crisis brewing within the party.
"I admit there have been honest differences of opinion in the party over the support to the women's reservation bill in the Lok Sabha, but it should not be taken as a crisis or split facing the party," said Kumar.
On a section of the media suggesting that he might break away from the JD-U and launch a new party, Kumar said, "I simply ignore such reports."
"My point of view on the Bill is crystal clear. Bihar is the first state which, under the rule of the National Democratic Alliance, provided 50 per cent reservation to women in Panchayat Raj institutions and urban bodies," he said.
"Since the Centre and other states are adopting the decision of the state's NDA government for ensuring reservation to women, with the experience I received from the desires and aspirations of women running Panchayat Raj institutions and urban bodies effectively, I can never shy away from supporting a similar move by the Centre," he said.
The chief minister said women are doing well in managing the affairs of the local and urban bodies "and their desires are for total empowerment and active involvement in the policy-making process."
Asserting that he was not averse to ensuring reservation for Other Backward Classes and weaker sections of the society in the Women's Reservation Bill, Kumar said, "Let the bill be allowed to be adopted by the Lok Sabha first, then we can make suggestions to bring OBCs and other weaker sections under its ambit."
On reports that majority of the JD-U Lok Sabha members are siding with him on the issue, Kumar said, "I don't want to get dragged into such a controversy."
On JD-U national president Sharad Yadav's reservation about the bill, he said, "I have explained what I have to say on the issue."
He evaded repeated questions about the possibility of a split in the JD-U, saying, "I have expressed my views clearly and there is nothing to add."