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Centre's 10% Quota For Economically Weak From General Category Passes Rajya Sabha Test

The upper House approved The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty Fourth Amendment) Bill, 2019, with 165 voting in favour and 7 against. It will now go to the President for his approval upon which it will become law.


Updated:January 10, 2019, 8:30 AM IST

After more than a 10-hour long debate, the Reservation bill was finally passed unanimously by the upper house of the Parliament. Rajya Sabha approved the necessary amendments in the Constitution to allow for a 10 per cent reservation to general category poor in jobs and education.

“The slog overs have started and this is just the first six,” Union Minister for Law Ravi Shankar Prasad said in Rajya Sabha, adding, “many more are to follow.”

Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment and chief of the Republican Party of India, went a step further and admitted that the bill was introduced in a bid to win election. “We will do what we can, those in opposition should do what is in their capacity to win the elections.”

The upper House approved The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty Fourth Amendment) Bill, 2019, with 165 voting in favour and 7 against. It will now go to the President for his approval upon which it will become law.

While most of the parties voiced their support for the bill, many questioned the benefits it would ultimately provide to the general classes for whom it was meant.

“Reservation in jobs for the economically weaker sections is a noble idea. But where are the jobs? What will you ultimately achieve with this,” asked Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav.

“This bill is an acknowledgment of the fact that we haven’t created enough jobs. The only thing that this bill will do is redraw poverty lines. The new poverty line is Rs 2,100 per day,” said Trinamool Congress leader Derek O Brien.

Various leaders of opposition also asked how the government justified the reservation for the upper castes given that it has not been able to fill vacancies meant for the reserved sections. NCP’s Praful Patel called the bill “a stillborn baby” and BJD’s Prasanna Acharya described the bill as “the ambulance of a sick government”.

The Union Social Justice Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot responded to this charge by claiming that filling up of jobs reserved for SC/STs and OBCs is an ongoing process. He added that adding the bill was an attempt to benefit poor of general category who have been deprived so far.

SP’s Ram Gopal Yadav and BSP’s Satish Mishra asked why if the government had now decided to break the 50% cap on reservations did it not think of extending reservations according to the proportionate populations of various backward communities of the country.

The Bill was approved after the House rejected a motion moved by Kanimozhi (DMK) and supported by the Left parties for sending it to a parliamentary select committee for scrutiny.

The Bill was approved after the House rejected 5 amendments moved by Opposition members.

The quota will be over and above the existing 50 per cent reservation to SCs, STs and Other Backward Classes (OBCs).

The Reservation bill, introduced at the fag end of the winter session, comes just four months ahead of the Lok Sabha polls and weeks after the BJP faced the wrath of the upper castes, especially in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, following its aggressive push to win over backward classes and Dalits, and is being seen as an attempt by the party to win over its core constituency of upper castes.

| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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