New Delhi, Sep 4 (IANS) The cabinet Tuesday approved a constitutional amendment bill to provide reservations for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in government job promotions. It immediately created a political divide with the BJP providing conditional support, the Bahujan Samaj Party welcoming the move and the Samajwadi Party opposing it.
The decision on reservations had been taken at an all party meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Aug 21.
The BSP had raised the issue in parliament after the Supreme Court in April overruled the Uttar Pradesh government's decision to provide reservations in government job promotions. The BSP, which had provided the reservation when it was in the government, then demanded a constitutional amendment to provide for such quotas.
The proposed bill seeks to amend at least four articles of the constitution to enable the government to provide quota in promotions for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).
The bill is likely to be tabled in parliament on Wednesday or Thursday. Parliament's monsoon session concludes Friday.
The BSP expectedly welcomed the measure and appealed to the BJP, which has stalled parliament for 10 days over the allocation of coal blocks, to let the house function so that the bill could be passed.
"I will appeal to the NDA, specially BJP...I would request them to pass this bill as it has already been discussed in the all-party meeting, and needs no more debate in parliament," Mayawati told reporters in parliament.
"I would urge them, whether it takes half-an-hour, one hour or one-and-a-half-hours, to get it passed in this session," she said.
"We have fought hard for this bill. It will allow Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to stand on their feet," Mayawati said, adding that if a similar promotion quota is also granted to the other backward classes, her party would support it.
The Bharatiya Janata Party offered conditional support.
"We are supporting the bill. But some members have some reservations. We will discuss it and suggest some amendments," BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told IANS.
The Samajwadi Party, however, said it would not allow the bill to be passed. It likened its fate to that of the women's reservation bill that has been pending in the Lok Sabha since March 2010 after being passed by the Rajya Sabha.
"We are against the bill. It is unconstitutional," Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav said, adding: "The Supreme Court has quashed it. Still the government wants to bring the bill because it is politically motivated."
"Just as we did not allow the women's reservation bill to be passed, we will not allow this bill either," he told IANS.
The government said it was committed to getting the bill passed.
"It was a decision taken in an all-party meeting. It is everyone's view," Law Minister Salman Khurshid said.
--Indo-Asian News Service