The Constitution amendment bill providing for quota in promotions for SCs and STs in government jobs was passed by Rajya Sabha with an overwhelming support on Monday 17 December. The Constitution (117th Amendment) bill got the backing of 206 members while 10 voted against the legislation in a House of 245. A total of 216 members were present.
While UPA ally Samajwadi Party (SP) strongly opposed the bill, another outside ally of the government pushed for it, compelling the government to toe its stand. Nine SP members voted against the bill along with an Independent Md Adeeb.
All four members of Shiv Sena, were not present in the House. SP and Shiv sena are the only parties which are opposed to the bill.
The issue triggered an uproar in the House in the morning with SP members rushing into the Well leading to its adjournment for 30 minutes during Question Hour.
Raising the issue during Zero Hour, Ram Gopal Yadav of SP said that the Rajinder Sachar Committee in its report pointed out that the condition of Muslims was worse than Dalits and so there should a Constitutional amendment to provide for quota to Muslims.
“When quota in promotion (for SC/ST) can be given by amending Constitution, then why Muslims should not be given reservation in proportion to their population through a Constitution Amendment Bill,” Yadav asked. LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan and RJD members supported him.
Earlier, as soon as the House met for the day, Yadav said he has given a notice for suspension of Question Hour to take up the issue.
To garner maximum support, government incorporated some crucial elements like 22 percent cap on promotions for which consideration of Annual Confidential Report (ACR) will be crucial. Reeling out figures, Narayanasamy pointed out that discrimination against the SCs/STs/OBCs continue and they are inadequately represented in the top bureaucracy. He said quota in promotion existed since 1995 but the decision in Indira Sawhney case put spokes in it.
Commenting on SP’s stance on the bill, Congress MP PL Punia, who is also the Chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes said, “It is intriguing to see that the MPs and MLAs of the Samajwadi Party from the Dalit community are mute spectators and are maintaining conspicuous silence over the anti-Dalit stance of their party on the bill.”
“SP has a total of 56 MLAs from Dalit communities out of its strength of 226 members in UP assembly and almost half of its MPs in Lok Sabha are from this community. Yet, none have dared to question the patently anti-Dalit stance adopted by the party leadership, which is crucial for the interests of the Dalits’’, said PL Punia. He said the Akhilesh Yadav is chief minister only on the strength of the Dalit votes and support of MLAs from the Dalit community, yet his government is working in a vehement manner to hurt the interests of the dalits.
“SP MLAs and MPs are not the equal members of their party they are slaves of their party. Despite their huge strength in the ruling party, the SP government passed a bill in UP assembly against the reservation in promotion for the Dalits and not a single MLA from the Dalit community dared to raise his/her voice. This is not politics, this is worst kind of gulami (slavery),” said Punia, adding “It’s a shame on them, instead of facing such situation they should have quit politics’’.
Punia, a retired IAS officer of UP cadre, who once served as principal secretary when Mulayam Singh Yadav was the chief minister of UP (1993-95), questioned the political wisdom of the SP in opposing the quota in promotion for the Dalits. “What is new in this policy? After all, reservation in promotion for SCs is in force since 1955. Even the 2006 Supreme Court judgment did not quash it, the court only laid down three new principals like quantifying data on the backwardness of the Dalits and there should be no adverse impact on overall administrative efficiency’’. He added, “After the passage of the bill, there will be no legal infirmity in the Legislation and the facility of reservation in promotion to the SC/ST employees will be restored.”
Meanwhile, the UP state government employees spearheading anti-reservation agitation resorted to violence and attacked the state party office of Congress and BSP on Maonday. They also clashed with a group of people who are pro-reservation.
Under the banner of ‘Sarvajan Hitaye Sanrakshan Samiti,’ the anti-reservation agitators staged a protest in front of the Congress and BSP offices in Lucknow. Later, they burnt hoardings and even damaged some vehicles. They also staged a protest near the residence of BSP chief and former UP Chief Minister Mayawati and burnt her effigy.
(With inputs from PTI)