Quota bill moved in Rajya Sabha amid uproar


NEW DELHI, January 9, 2018: The Rajya Sabha was adjourned till afternoon following protests by opposition members amidst demands that the Constitution bill providing for upper caste reservation be sent to a Select Committee for detailed consideration even as the government sought to push ahead with its passage on the last day of the winter session on Wednesday.

With the Lok Sabha having passed the Constitution (124th Amendment) bill providing for 10 per cent reservation for the economically weaker sections among the general category in government service and higher educational institutions, Social Justice Minister Thawarchand Gehlot moved it for consideration in the upper House.

As Gehlot was moving the Bill, DMK's K. Kanimohzi objected to it, demanding that the legislation be sent to the Select Committee.

CPI's D. Raja also objected to the consideration of the bill demanding that it be sent to a Select Committee.

Madhusudhan Mistry of Congress said the Bill was not complete and told the government that it cannot have both introduction and voting on the same day. He asked what was the urgency in the passage of the Bill.

The Congress and some other opposition members were in the well against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 which was passed by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

They were also protesting against the "unilateral" extension of the session till Wednesday saying it was done without consulting the opposition. They said the Chair did not announce a day's extension in the working days of the House nor did it seek the members' consent.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel said that Home Minister Rajnath Singh will make a statement on the Citizenship Amendment Bill at 2 p.m. while accusing the Congress of stalling the quota bill indirectly due to technical grounds.

"If you openly oppose the Bill, it is different. Otherwise, let's have a discussion on it as it has already been introduced," he said.

Congress' Anand Sharma said that his party was not opposing the reservation Bill but the government should state the reason behind its introduction after four-and-a-half years of being in power.

He alleged that the intention of the government was to grab votes.

Moving the Bill, Gehlot said the Constitution does not allow reservation on economic basis and due to that poor people in general category miss out on opportunities.

"There was a complaint by the poor of the general category that they could not avail of government benefits. The decision has been taken after much consideration. This bill will uplift the poor," he said.

He appealed to the members to pass the bill unanimously. This was followed by the start of the debate by BJP member Prabhat Jha. But as shouting and uproar continued, Deputy Chairman Harivansh adjourned the House till 2 p.m.

The Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill was passed after a division with 323 members voting in its favour and three against in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day too, the Rajya Sabha was adjourned once up to noon after protests by members on the "unilateral" extension of the session.