The Rajya Sabha Monday passed by an overwhelming majority a constitutional amendment Bill to provide reservations for SC, ST employees in promotions in government jobs. Out of a total of 204 MPs present and voting, 194 voted in favour of the Constitution (117th Amendment) Bill, 2012. Ten MPs — nine SP members and Independent MP Mohammed Adeeb — voted against the Bill.
Among the 40 MPs who were absent were members of the Trinamool Congress and the Shiv Sena, which had earlier opposed the Bill.
Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy, who introduced the Bill, said it seeks to correct the “inadequacy” in representation of SCs and STs in higher positions in government jobs. “We are convinced that they are backward per se. The government is committed to providing reservations in promotions. This is the commitment of our government and the party,” he said.
Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley sought an assurance from the government that the amendments would not affect people who have already been promoted since 1995.
Participating in the debate, the SP strongly opposed the government move, with party MP Ram Gopal Yadav accusing the UPA government of pushing the Bill just “for some
people”, an apparent reference to the BSP. He also warned that the move could have serious repercussions and the amendment may be challenged in court. “What is wrong is wrong. Think again and introspect before voting. Don’t vote against your conscience. People will rectify it,” Yadav said, adding, “The Bill, if passed, will get challenged in court. It will be scrutinised in the Supreme Court.” He said that while there was justification in having reservations in government jobs at the entry level, every employee should be treated equally thereafter.
Another SP MP, Naresh Agrawal, demanded that the Bill be referred to the parliamentary standing committee to avoid a possible widespread uproar. “I would urge the government to refer the Bill to the standing committee...What’s the problem if it is sent to the committee?” Agrawal asked.
He, however, asserted that the SP was not against reservation, saying, “If 82 per cent of the people are not accepting the Bill, it (the passage of the Bill) will create division... It will have a very serious fallout in the future.”
Last week, all SP MPs in Rajya Sabha had staged a walkout after disrupting proceedings that forced the Chair to suspend two party MPs for unruly behaviour. The Lok Sabha too witnessed protests by the SP MPs, who didn’t allow the House to function.
When the Lok Sabha proceedings began today, the 22-member SP group led by party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav started protesting against the Bill and also seeking reservations for Muslims, forcing the Chair to adjourn the House for half-an-hour, followed by three more short ajournments. Finally, the Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day without transacting any significant business, as it witnessed repeated disruptions by SP members. Mulayam has already threatened to review support to the UPA government.
Some Congress MPs, including a minister from Andhra Pradesh, also staged a protest in the House on the issue. Talking to mediapersons outside Parliament, Mulayam again threatened to review support to UPA on the issue, saying the government should work towards providing reservations for Muslims.
“We will think about continuing support,” he said. Referring to the Sachar committee report, he said the condition of the Muslim community was worse than SCs and STs. “Muslims’ condition is very bad. Therefore, reservations should be provided to them and there is no alternative to this,” he said.