Home » Congress, BJP raise pitch over quotas as Bihar polls loom

Congress, BJP raise pitch over quotas as Bihar polls loom

by etodayonline

The Congress has also announced a nationwide agitation over the issue.

Rahul Gandhi (Photo: PTI)

 Rahul Gandhi (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: With a day left for the Delhi Assembly poll results, the battle for Bihar has begun, with the Opposition led by the Congress going full blast on the SC/ST quota issue in Parliament and outside. While former Congress president Rahul Gandhi alleged there was a big conspiracy to take away the rights of deprived sections, the government told the Lok Sabha it was not a party to the case in which the Supreme Court has ruled states are not bound to provide quotas in appointments and promotions.

The Congress has also announced a nationwide agitation over the issue.

The SC/ST issue also forced NDA ally Lok Janshakti Party to take a stand, with its chief Chirag Paswan saying the government should immediately intervene, and put the subject of reservations in the Ninth Schedule, so that no one can approach the
Supreme Court on these issues.

The issue of reservation is likely to be a major poll plank for the Bihar Assembly polls later this year. It might be recalled that RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat’s statement against reservations was said to be one of the reasons for the NDA’s defeat in Bihar in 2015.

The day began with the Opposition parties attacking the government in the Lok Sabha, saying the Centre had failed to defend the reservation system. The Opposition first tried to raise the matter during Question Hour, but was given time by Speaker Om Birla to speak in the Zero Hour, when Congress’ Lok Sabha leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and Trinamul Congress’ Kalyan Banerjee said there was a dilution in SC/ST reservations since the Narendra Modi government came to power.

In the Rajya Sabha, the Opposition parties demanded that the government file a review petition in the Supreme Court over its ruling on reservations in jobs and promotions for SC/STs, and walked out of the House over the matter.

Congress members later shouted slogans “Modi Sarkar Hai Hai, Modi Government Shame Shame!”

CPI(M) member A.M. Ariff said the government should file a review petition, while LJP MP Chirag Paswan said the government should immediately intervene and put the subject of reservations in the Ninth Schedule.

Mr Gandhi later told the media outside the House that it was in “the DNA of the BJP and the RSS” to try to erase reservations and that “a big conspiracy was underway” to take away the rights of deprived sections. “We will not allow reservations to be done away with, no matter how much Modiji or Mohan Bhagwat dream of it,” he said.

Responding to the Opposition charge in the House later, social justice and empowerment minister Thaawarchand Gehlot said the court order pertains to a 2012 decision by the previous Congress government in Uttarakhand and said the Centre was committed and dedicated to quotas for SCs, STs and OBCs. He said the Centre was not asked to file an affidavit in the matter, and said the issue was being discussed in the government at the “highest level” and that it would take “appropriate steps”.

The Supreme Court has held that states are not bound to provide reservations in appointments and that there is no fundamental right to claim quotas in promotions.

Defence minister Rajnath Singh accused the Congress of trying to politicise the issue. “This is my charge that the Congress is politicising this sensitive issue,” he said.

Coming down heavily on the government, the Congress said it would move a privilege motion against Mr Gehlot for misleading the House on the Congress’ position. “The BJP has shown their true colours on guaranteeing reservations to SC/ST and OBCs. The Uttarakhand government’s stand in the Supreme Court, that there is no fundamental right to claim reservations in public posts, is a danger signal. The Congress will fight against such an unconstitutional stand,” CWX general secretary (organisation) K.C. Venugopal said.

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