Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav had the entire Lok Sabha in splits on Thursday as he pleaded his case against the Women's Reservation Bill passed by the Rajya Sabha.
"Congress members are telling me, 'please save us as we are being made to sign on our death certificates by supporting this legislation'," he said while speaking briefly on the Bill. In a speech full of sarcasm, he even dubbed the Bill as an onion that will bring tears to the eyes of the members once they peel it.
Prasad did not spare the Communist Party of India - Marxist and told the Left party's leader Basudeb Acharia that their bete noire Mamata Banerjee had taken the lead in West Bengal and even he had pinned his hopes on her support. He was referring to Banerjee's Trinamool Congress members abstaining from voting on the Bill when it was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.
Prasad told Speaker Meira Kumar that it was not his fashion to rush to the Well of the House and shout slogans.
"When a person does not listen, then it is necessary to go closer to him and speak. Don't take it otherwise, madam," he said, drawing guffaws from members.
"Jitna hi suniyega, utna hi yaha-wahan aane mein kami hogi (the more you listen to us, the less we will march towards the Well)," he said.
Prasad also had a word of praise for Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for his visit to Dalit homes, but argued that the same women whose plight he brought to light would not benefit if the bill is passed in its current form.
"Rahul had told the House that he had visited the house of a poor woman Kalavati. It is a good thing. He is a youth leader, he should move ahead, but at the same time he should know that the daughters of Muslims and poor people should also benefit from reservation," he said.
At one point, Prasad also appeared to take exception to Acharia dubbing the three key leaders opposing the Bill as the 'Yadav trio'. "We are supremos of our respective parties, but in your party everything supreme is over. You are neither in Pakistan nor in India," he said.
Acharia tried to interrupt but was silenced by Prasad's quick wit.
"The constitution is being amended and hence everyone's opinion must be taken into account," Prasad said and demanded a debate on the bill before it is brought to the Lok Sabha.
He said his party was not opposed to women's reservation, but wanted amendments in the bill to ensure that rights of the Muslim and Dalit women were upheld.