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Published On: Wed, Jan 9th, 2019

Quota bill passed in Rajya Sabha ,president nod soon

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RS-09NEW DELHI : The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday passed the Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill, 2019, to grant 10% reservation for economically weaker sections of general category with the opposition divided over its stance on the legislation. The quota bill will now become a law as the president’s nod is expected soon. The Lok Sabha had passed the quota bill on Tuesday.
The quota bill in Rajya Sabha was passed by 165 votes, more than two-thirds majority of the house. Seven members voted against it.While Thaawar Chand Gehlot, union minister of social justice and empowerment, tabled the quota bill in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. It drew support of major opposition parties, including the Congress, which had only a day earlier accused the centre of trying to push the bill ahead of general elections, without any scrutiny by a select committee.
“Today this house makes a historic decision. Lakhs of families that are close to the poverty line—and are forced to live life that way—will now get reservation in government jobs because of this amendment. PM Modi has introduced this bill with good intent so that people can reap the benefits of government programmes. I thank the political parties for supporting this bill,” Gehlot said.

The 124th Amendment Bill provides for 10% reservation to economically weaker sections in the general category, especially upper castes. “Weaker section beneficiaries” include people less than ₹8 lakh annually; own less than five hectares of agricultural land, residential property of less than 1,000 sq. ft and a residential plot that is less than 109 square yards in a notified municipality and 209 square yards in a non-notified municipality.
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader M. Kanimozhi, opposed the quota bill, saying that it “had been forced on both houses without being sent to the standing committee or select committee”. At the same time, the Congress, while supporting the bill questioned how the Centre had decided on ₹8 lakh as the limit, when people with incomes of ₹2.5 lakh and above paid income tax.

“We don’t know what the hurry is. They (BJP) had five years and they could have introduced it earlier and it would have been taken to the select committee and it would’ve been discussed and then passed. There are three hurdles this bill will have to pass: complete non application of mind, second is the constitutionality of the bill and third is the implementation of the bill,” said Congress leader Kapil Sibal.

Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told opposition parties to support to quota bill, without flogging the matter much, adding that “several big announcements are in the pipeline”.The centre’s stand, however, raised opposition eyebrows with the Congress accusing it of ignoring the weaker sections for most part of its five-year term.
“It took the government four years and seven months to come up with this. This was done because they got a jolt after the recent assembly elections. Has there been any focus on jobs? 97,000 jobs have been lost in the public sector undertakings. Why didn’t they bring in a women’s reservation bill? A debate could have happened on that,” Congress leader Anand Sharma said in the Rajya Sabha.

“We know jobs have come down and the private sector should have reservation too,” union minister Ram Vilas Paswan said in response.A day after it was passed in the Lok Sabha, the Government’s bill allowing for 10 percent quota to economically poor candidates form the general category was also passed in the Rajya Sabha. The quota is over and above 50 percent mandated for the SCs, STs and the OBCs.

Earlier, the Congress rose up to extend its support for the quota bill but said it fails to understand the urgency behind the move. Congress’s Kapil Sibal, pointing out the difficulties with the bill, said where is the data to back government’s decision to introduce the reservation bill for the economically poor among the general category candidates.
‘After the historic passage of The Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill, 2019 in both the Houses of Parliament, Prime Minister Narendra Modi dubbed it as a victory for social justice. “It ensures a wider canvas for our Yuva Shakti to showcase their prowess and contribute towards India’s transformation,” PM Modi said.
thr  Congress and other opposition parties on Wednesday strongly protested in the Rajya Sabha over the introduction of the bill to provide 10 per cent reservation in jobs and educational institutions to economically poor among the general category and supported demands for sending it to a select committee. Congress leader Kapil Sibal said, “The Mandal Commission provision of 10% reservation for the economically weaker category was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. If a nine-judge bench held it unconstitutional, how can you amend the constitution?”
Kapil Sibal said, “Is there any data to show how many OBC, SC, ST is there in the states. So, what is the data to show how many people have homes under 1000 sq ft or have an annual income below 8 lakhs per annum?”Congress leader Kabil Sibal has argued in the Rajya Sabha that the Centre’s Quota bill seeking 10 per cent reservation in jobs and educational institutions to economically weaker sections in the general category is ‘devoid of empirical data’. Further, Sibal charged the Modi government of not ‘applying their minds’ while framing the bill.
RJD’s Manoj Jha attacked the BJP, claiming that the reservation is not a poverty alleviation program like MNREG, but an “anti-Dalit and anti-poor” scheme. He further added that the Bill is not constitutionally tenable. Quota Bill Expression of BJP’s Desperation | CPI(M) MP Elamaram Kareem charged the BJP of robbing the country of one crore jobs during demonetisation. “The timing of this Bill expresses the desperation of BJP to muster support electorally,” he said. The government of Kerala, from 1957, made land reforms, developed public education and distribution system, empowered women and strengthened people’s participation in administration, he added.

While the JD (U) has extended its support to the Quota bill, the TDP argues that the bill should have been referred  to a Select Committee. TDP MP YS Chowdary said, “Compromising on parliamentary procedures is very sad. Chandrababu Naidu said that this kind of Bill should have been referred to a select committee. On the contrary, Ram Chandra Prasad Singh, a JD(U) MP, said, “JD(U) supports this Bill and welcomes it. This Bill has strength. Even if it has been delayed, at least this Bill is now here.”

Derek O’Brien of the Trinamool Congress attacked the Centre’s pre-poll reservation bill on Wednesday labelling it as an ‘acknowledgement of guilt’.  “This bill is an acknowledgement of guilt, that we haven’t created any jobs in the last four and a half years. It redefines India’s poverty line of Rs 32 a day. If we look at the number of Rs 8 lakhs a year, then the new poverty line stands at Rs 2,100 a day,” he said.

Defending the introduction of the 10 per cent quota for the economically backward upper castes in jobs and education, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said that the bill is a strong answer to those “spreading lies”. Hoping that the Rajya Sabha will pass the Bill on Wednesday, PM Modi said the rights of deprived sections, including Dalits and the tribals, won’t be affected because of this bill. He termed the  passage of the bill in the Lok Sabha as a historic step aimed at the welfare of the deprived sections.(With Agency Inputs ).

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