New Delhi, June 6 (IANS): A day after he threatened to consume poison inside the Lok Sabha over the women's reservation bill, Janata Dal-United president Sharad Yadav Saturday said that "no quota will help" unless the scourge of casteism is addressed.
Yadav told reporters here that he would continue to protest against the women's reservation bill - which aims to reserve 33 percent seats for women in the parliament and state legislatures - in its present form.
When told that his party did not have the numbers to prevent the passage of the bill, he retorted: "So what? So should I leave the parliament?"
Yadav said in parliament Friday that he would "consume poison and die" if the Women's Reservation Bill was passed in its present form. He wanted a quota for backward classes within the quota.
He asserted that the "biggest scourge in India is casteism, which is a reality of the country's social structure. Unless this is resolved, no quota will help."
Yadav reiterated that the real need was to liberate women who belong to the backward and most backward classes.
He also invoked Socrates, the ancient Greek philosopher, saying he would go as far as to drink poison over the women's reservation bill rather than allow it in its present form. "In the same way as Socrates had said he will prefer poison than leave Athens."
"The entire Greece wanted him out. So, I will prefer poison to allowing this bill to be passed till the larger caste concerns of the India are addressed," Yadav, who is also the convenor the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance, said.
Yadav, who was participating in the debate on the motion of thanks to the president's address to the joint session of parliament Friday, accused the Congress of indulging in "tokenism" over the issue by naming a woman as Lok Sabha speaker (Meira Kumar) and the country's president (Pratibha Patil) and said it would not help liberate women.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has promised early passage of the bill providing for one-third reservation to women in state legislatures and in parliament and said this was one of the priorities of his government in the next 100 days.
The bill, conceived in the mid-1990s, has been delayed due to opposition from Sharad Yadav, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.