The Indian Parliament building stands in New Delhi. (Photographer: Pankaj Nangia/Bloomberg)  

Reservations: Opposition Protests As Government Moves Quota Bill In Rajya Sabha

The Congress and other opposition parties on Wednesday strongly protested in the Rajya Sabha over the introduction of a bill to provide 10 percent reservation in jobs and educational institutions to economically poor among the general category.

The protesting parliamentarians supported demands for sending it to a select committee.

Social Welfare and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot introduced “The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Fourth Amendment) Bill, 2019” in the Upper House amid the opposition members accusing the government of playing politics on the issue. Gehlot, however, countered the opposition charge claiming that the government’s intent was good and aimed at uplifting the poor of the nation.

The bill seeks to provide 10 percent reservation in jobs and educational institutions to economically weaker sections in the general category, but the opposition has dubbed it as an “election gimmick” ahead of assembly polls this year.

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The Congress, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Rashtriya Janata Dal and Aam Aadmi Party were in the well of the house and continued to raise slogans against the government. Sensing the mood, Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh adjourned the house till 2 p.m. while the discussion on the bill was on.

DMK member Kanimozhi demanded sending the Constitution amendment bill to a select committee for further scrutiny and sought division on her motion. Her demand was supported by members of some parties including D Raja (CPI), with Congress also asking the deputy chairman to take up her plea first and allow division on her motion.

But, Harivansh said it will only be taken up after the discussion, prompting the Opposition members to raise further slogans.

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Earlier, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Vijay Goel accused the opposition of seeking to stall the passage of the bill. This was strongly opposed, with Congress member Anand Sharma saying his party supported the bill, and Manoj Jha of RJD stating the charge was incorrect and that the bill was “interference with the basic structure of the constitution”.

Sharma alleged that Goel has not done justice by making the charge as the Congress was in favour of the bill but had issues with the manner in which it was brought.

After the deputy chairman allowed the minister to move the bill amid the din, he heard various members raising points of order, but refrained from giving any ruling.

Congress member Madhusudan Mistry raised a point of order saying the bill was incomplete as the statement of objectives were not there. He questioned the urgency of the government in bringing this bill in such haste.

The deputy chairman said Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu had already granted a two-day exemption for introducing the bill and the same should be taken up.

Also read: Here’s What Political Leaders Think Of The New Quota Bill

The government on Wednesday introduced in Rajya Sabha a legislation to give 10 percent quota in state jobs and educational institutions for upper caste poor.

“This decision has not been taken in haste. It is brought with good intention keeping in view the welfare of the poor in general category people,” Gehlot said. He added the constitution did not allow reservation on economic basis and many among the poor of general category missed out on opportunities.

The Congress members also raised slogans over the citizenship amendment bill.

The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday and was brought to the upper house after the sitting of the House was extended by a day.

Also read: Will Modi’s Upper Caste Quota Gamble Pay Off?