New Delhi: The UPA government seems to be in an awkward position as its outside supporters BSP and SP have been holding diametrically opposite views on the issue of reservations in promotions.

The Rajya Sabha is set to witness another stormy day on Tuesday over the controversial Bill providing reservation to SC/STs in government job promotions.

Crucial Congress meet

Meanwhile, top Congress leaders including UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his residence to chalk out strategy that will break the impasse in the Rajya Sabha over the Quota bill.

Promotion quota bill - What it is about
  • The Constitution (One hundred and seventeenth) Amendment Bill, introduced in Rajya Sabha Sep 4, seeks to amend at least four articles of the constitution to enable the government to provide quotas in promotions for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes who constitute roughly 25 percent of the country's 1.2 billion population
  • It seeks to remove the term 'inadequate representation' mentioned in Article 16(4A) to justify quotas in promotions and appointments. It also delinks the term 'efficiency of administration' from the claims of SC and ST for jobs and promotions, mentioned in Article 335
  • Article 335 of the constitution states that the claims of the SC and ST have to be balanced with maintaining efficiency in administration. The bill states the amendment will override the provision of Article 355
  • The Bill provides that all the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes notified in the constitution shall be deemed to be backward

Day 1: Quota Bill in Rajya Sabha

On Monday, the government was caught in the middle of the SP-BSP rivalry over the issue as it was under intense pressure from the BSP chief for its quick passage and the SP supremo on the other threatened to stall the house proceedings if the bill was not dropped.

Mayawati said she will be forced to take a tough stand if the amendment bill is not passed.

BJP indicates support

BJP, the principal opposition party, on its part indicated that it is likely to support the bill with some amendments, saying it favours all measures for social justice provided they are within constitutional parameters.

Govt searching solution to deadlock  

Amid diverse pulls and pressures from SP and BSP, government said it was holding consultations to find a way out of the deadlock.

Congress Spokesman P C Chacko said while the Bill is the commitment of Congress party, "ultimately, it is the collective wisdom of Parliament" that will decide on the issue.

Adamant SP

"We will disrupt the House and not allow it to function if the bill (for reservation to SC/ST in job promotions) is passed...We will continue to oppose the bill and we are ready for suspension," SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav told reporters.

Asked if the party will disrupt the House proceedings if the government gets the bill passed amid the din, he said, "If they are adamant to get it passed, then we will do it."

BSP dares Govt

BSP threatened to take a "tough stand" in case the government does not help bring order in the Rajya Sabha and get the bill passed.

It also charged BJP with deliberately stalling the proceedings in the Rajya Sabha and accused SP of acting at its behest to stall the bill.

"We will see for two-three days more. We will see government's stand on the issue. What they do and what the Chairman of Rajya Sabha says. Then, we will decide and a take a tough stand. The SC/ST bill is a very serious issue for us," Mayawati told reporters.

Asking the government to bring order in the House, Mayawati said, "I want to tell the UPA government that running the House is their responsibility. Now, it is the government's duty to run the House properly and get this bill debated and passed."

All party meet

Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari also held a meeting of various political parties in his chamber, with Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley, BSP leader Satish Mishra, SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath and MoS in PMO V Narayanasamy attending it.

Narayanasamy said "the government is committed to SC/ST Bill bill and get it passed in this session itself and is holding consultations in this regard. The PM has also held two all-party meetings on this issue."

Congress spokesman P C Chacko said "the House has to decide. Our commitment is clear. This is not something that has to do with the present context (linking it with FDI). We hope this reservation is given full support by all parties. We cannot compromise on it as we have pushed it. It is a political commitment of Congress party. We fully support it."

The BJP also outlined its stand on the row over the bill.

"There seem to be a lot of hurdles in the passage of the reservation in promotion for SC/ST bill. BJP is in favour of social justice for SC/ST but within constitutional parameters," BJP Deputy Leader in Rajya Sabha Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters.

The party also referred to the Supreme Court ruling on the issue.

"BJP is fully supportive of this measure subject to constitutional parameters," he said, when asked if the party will support the bill in Parliament.

But sources said the party wants certain provisions in the Bill to be changed and has also discussed them with BSP, which is spearheading the campaign to get it passed, and other parties.

Making its stand clear on the issue, Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav said his party will not allow the House to run if the government is adamant on bringing the reservation bill.

"Yes, of course. If the government is adamant on bringing it (Bill), Samajwadi Party will certainly object to it. We will disrupt the House and we will not allow the House to run."

He was asked whether SP will disrupt the House proceeding if the Bill is pushed by the government.

Yadav termed the Bill "unconstitutional" and "unethical".

"We are from the very beginning opposed to the bill because it is unconstitutional, unethical and it creates a division in the society itself," he said.

The Winter Session of Parliament is due to conclude on December 20.


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