M A I N   N E W S

Cabinet okays SC, ST promotion quota Bill
Govt to table it in RS today in bid to corner BJP
Anita Katyal/TNS

Boost for Maya

The Mayawati government in UP had provided reservation benefits for SCs, STs in promotions in government jobs
The Supreme Court on April 28 quashed it, terming it as unconstitutional and done without any sufficient data
When the monsoon session of Parliament began on August 8, several parties vociferously demanded that a Bill be brought to circumvent the SC decision
In view of these demands, the government promised on August 9 that a Bill would be brought in Parliament

New Delhi, September 4
In an effort to please BSP chief Mayawati and to checkmate the BJP on Coalgate, the UPA government has decided to introduce a Bill in the Rajya Sabha tomorrow, providing for reservation in promotion to SC/ST employees.

The Bill was cleared by the Union Cabinet at a specially convened meeting this morning. Announcing the government decision, Parliamentary Affairs Minister PK Bansal said he had requested the BJP to allow a discussion on the legislation and cooperate in its passage.

The BJP has been disrupting Parliament for the past 10 days to press for the resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over CAG's latest report on coal block allocations.

"We want to pass the Bill and have appealed to all political parties to join in the voting," Bansal said.

Although the BJP is not opposed to the Bill, it wants to remain focused on the coal blocks scam. After a late night strategy session at senior leader LK Advani's residence, party insiders indicated the BJP would continue to force adjournment of both Houses of Parliament and would not allow the Bill to be passed. "It's too important a Bill to be passed in such disturbed conditions," said a party leader.

Since it is a Constitutional amendment Bill, it has to be supported by 50 per cent of the members and two-third members present and voting in the House. It cannot be passed in a din as the vote has to be recorded. Bansal said if members were unable to use the voting machine, a head count could be resorted to for the purpose of voting.

The UPA government's move to bring the Bill is essentially meant to corner the BJP at a time when it has put the ruling combine on the mat over the coal blocks controversy. If the BJP continues to disrupt Parliament, it risks sending out a signal that it is anti-Dalit. It will also allow the Congress to propagate that while it made all efforts to get the Bill passed, it was the BJP that blocked it. It's a tough choice for the BJP as its move to stall such a politically sensitive legislation could have adverse political repercussions in the year-end Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections.

While putting the BJP in a dilemma, the government's decision is also meant to woo its crucial supporting party, the BSP, which has been pressing for the expeditious passage of the legislation. The PM quickly convened an all-party meeting last month to forge a consensus on the issue after the BSP chief raised the matter in the Rajya Sabha. The government has deliberately listed the Bill in the Rajya Sabha as Mayawati is a member of the Upper House. In fact, the UPA is going ahead with the Bill although it has been vehemently opposed by the BSP's arch political rival, the Samajwadi Party (SP), which is also extending crucial outside support to the ruling combine.

Describing the move as a diversionary tactic by the UPA government, the SP said it remained steadfast on opposing the Bill." The Cabinet decision is against natural justice. We will continue to oppose this Bill," SP leader Ramgopal Yadav told mediapersons today. The SP wants the same provision extended to the OBCs.

Expectedly, the move was welcomed by Mayawati, who even met senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj to allow Parliament to function so that the Bill could be passed. "I have requested the NDA to vote for the Bill. They should allow the House to function and help us in passing the Bill," Mayawati said.





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