A bill to provide 10 per cent reservation to the economically backward people among the general category, is facing the test today in Rajya Sabha, where the opposition has majority. But it has a fair chance of getting passed in the upper house, with the key opposition parties, including the Congress, backing it. Last evening, the bill got passed in the Lok Sabha, with key opposition parties, despite reservations, lending it support. Most opposition parties have questioned the timing of the bill, alleging that the government’s move was meant to reap benefits in the coming national elections.
Here are the Top Ten Points in this big story:
- The “The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenth-Four Amendment) Bill, 2019” was presented in the Rajya Sabha today by Union minister Thawar Chand Gehlot. In the Lok Sabha yesterday, the bill had the support of 323 lawmakers, only three lawmakers voted against it.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed hope that the bill get similar support in the Rajya Sabha. At a rally in Maharashtra’s Solapur today, he said, “Anyaay ki bhavna khatam ho (the sense of injustice should end). We wanted equality of opportunity”.
- But Rajya Sabha was temporarily adjourned this morning as the Congress and several other parties protested, demanding that the bill be sent to a select committee for scrutiny. Lalu Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Left Front and Tamil Nadu’s opposition DMK are supporting the demand.
- Soon after the discussion started, the Congress, DMK, RJD and Aam Aadmi Party were in the well of the house and continued to raise slogans against the government.
- Parliamentary Affairs Minister Vijay Goel accused the opposition of trying to stall the bill, which is meant for the welfare of the poor. The Congress strongly objected, saying they supported the bill but did not agree with the manner in which it has been brought. The House was then adjourned till 2 pm.
- The bill, however, exposed rifts within the opposition, which is trying to project a united front to take on the BJP in the national elections late this year. Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party have refused to back the demand for scrutiny by a select parliamentary committee.
- The Congress, which supported the idea of a joint committee, initially adopted a “wait and watch” policy. “We had no other option as we had committed to support this,” a Congress leader said.
- “We are resolutely committed to the principle of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas.’ It is our endeavour to ensure that every poor person, irrespective of caste or creed gets to lead a life of dignity, and gets access to all possible opportunities,” PM Modi tweeted.
- A constitution amendment bill has to be passed with two-thirds majority in each house. Because the constitution does not provide for reservation on the ground of economic conditions, an amendment is required.
- The bill is expected to benefit a huge section of upper castes — including Brahmins, Rajputs (Thakurs), Jats, Marathas, Bhumihars, and several traders belonging to the Kapu and Kamma communities. The economically deprived among the other religions will also benefit.