10% quota for poor: Congress, others protest as govt introduces bill in Rajya Sabha

File photo of the Rajya Sabha, India's upper house of parliament. Photograph:( ANI )

PTI New Delhi, Delhi, India Jan 09, 2019, 03.08 PM (IST)

The Congress and other opposition parties on Wednesday strongly protested in the Rajya Sabha and demanded the sending of the 'The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty- Four Amendment) Bill, 2019' to a select committee, after the government introduced the key legislation.

The bill, that seeks to provide 10 per cent reservation in jobs and educational institutions to economically weaker sections in the general category, was introduced by Minister for Social Welfare and Empowerment Thaawar Chand Gehlot amid the din due to protests by opposition members.

The Congress, DMK, RJD 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 adjourned the house till 2 PM while the discussion on the bill was on.

DMK member Kanomozhi demanded to send 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, deputy chairman Harivansh said it will only be taken up after the discussion, prompting the opposition members to raise further slogans.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Vijay Goel accused the opposition of seeking to stall the passage of the bill that has been brought for the welfare of the poor.

This was strongly opposed, with Congress member Anand Sharma saying his party supported the bill, and Manoj Jha (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 asked what was 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.

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

Social Justice minister Gehlot said 'The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Four Amendment) Bill 2019 is a historic bill and a step brought to ensure equal opportunities for the poor in the general category.

He said previous governments have attempted to bring such a step but their actions have been struck down by the court as there was no such provision made in the Constitution.

Gehlot said it was under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government that this bill was brought to make such a provision for reservation for economically weaker sections.

"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," the minister said.

Seeking passage of the bill, Gehlot said this day will be remembered as an important one when crores of poor will benefit from this legislation that seeks to ensure equality and social harmony in the country.

The Congress members earlier 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.

Congress members, including Ripun Bora, wanted Home Minister Rajnath Singh to be called to the House to make a statement on the citizenship bill that seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

Goel said the same could be done at 2 PM.

Story highlights

The parties demanded the bill be sent to a select committee. The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha Tuesday by a vote of 323 ayes versus only 3 nays.