The Lok Sabha has passed a Constitution amendment bill that aims to provide 10 per cent reservation for general category poor. The bill provides reservation in the central as well as educational government jobs, which also includes private higher educational institutions, to those belonging to the economically weaker sections from the upper castes. As many as 323 members supported the bill to amend Article 15 and 16 of the Constitution to enable reservation, while three members voted against it.
Though most parties supported the idea of giving job assurance in terms of reservation for the poor, they doubted the intention of the government and asked the bill to be sent to the Joint Parliamentary Committee for further scrutiny. They said the government deliberately brought the amendment bill before the end of the Winter Session, to create a wave before the Lok Sabha elections in May after taking a hit in the recent Assembly elections in five states.
The bill will now be presented in the Rajya Sabha today. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the bill will stand legal scrutiny. The bill was passed after discussion for about five hours, during which Opposition members argued that it had several loopholes, and raised doubts over the government's intention to pass it in hurry.
Meanwhile, hot on the heels of the reservation debate, other party leaders, who represent a significant section of minorities and reserve categories, have also started seeking more reservation. LJP chief and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, whose party is an ally of the BJP, demanded the reservation in the private sector on the similar lines. He asked the government to provide 60 per cent quota in the private sector and also sought reservation in the judiciary.
BSP supremo Mayawati called this an "election stunt and political gimmick" ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. "It would have been better had the BJP taken the decision much earlier... The government is now on its way out," she claimed, quoted PTI. However, she later said that there is a need to review reservation criteria for the SC, ST, and OBCs, and sought to increase the quota in the proportion of the population rise. Senior SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav said now that the government has crossed the 'Lakshman Rekha' of the 50 per cent reservation bar, it should enhance the OBC reservation to 54 per cent.
Edited by Manoj Sharma