A day after the Lower House of the Parliament cleared The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty Fourth Amendment) Bill, 2019, the Upper House- Rajya Sabha- also cleared the Bill after more than a 10-hour long debate with 165 voting in favor and 7 against. The Bill will now go to the President for his approval and once he approves it, the Bill will become law. The Bill is dedicated to provide 10 percent reservation in jobs and education for the economically weaker sections of the general category.
PM Modi tweeted that the Bill is a tribute to the makers of the Constitution.
He also termed the Bill ‘a victory for social justice’.
During the passage of the Bill, the opposition tried to create many hurdles, the house was adjourned many times because of the ruckus created by the opposition parties. The opposition also questioned the timing of the Bill and said that BJP is doing all this for electoral reasons. To which, Law Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad replied, “In cricket, a sixer is hit in the slog overs, it is hit when the match is about to end. If you are concerned about this, then let me tell you this is not the first sixer, many more are yet to come.”
Ravi Shankar Prasad also attacked the Congress for not providing quota to EWS in general category. He had a copy of a 2010 report recommending reservation for the EWS in general category. Prasad asked to Congress members, “What stopped you from acting on this report from 2010 to 2014? You did not work and now you are asking us why we are working? We are making history today and it is strange that everybody is supporting the Bill but with a ‘but’.”
During the debate on 10% quota Bill, Congress’ PL Punia said that BJP took the idea of general category reservation from Congress’ manifesto.
The senior Congress leader Kapil Sibbal went to the extent of questioning the constitutionality of the Bill. He asked, ““If a 9-judge bench has ruled against 10% reservation for the economically backward people, how can this pass the judicial hurdle?” To which Smriti Irani replied, “So you are not supporting reservation for economically backward people? Why don’t you declare?”
Kumari Selja of the Congress said that the Bill is nefarious agenda of the RSS to end the reservation. She said, “The hasty Amendment is part of a nefarious agenda of the RSS to finish off reservation.”
Now here comes the contradiction, one Congress MP is saying that the BJP took the inspiration of general category reservation from Congress’ manifesto promise, and another Congress leader is terming the same as the nefarious agenda of the RSS to end the reservation. Well, if it is nefarious agenda of the RSS then the why did the Congress include it in its manifesto?
Minister of social justice and empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot, who introduced the legislation in the Rajya Sabha, in his reply said, “A lot of members are opposing the bill, saying it is not practical enough to be implemented. However, the proposal of quota for the poorer section was mentioned in every party’s manifesto. I want to ask, how they would have implemented it? ”
Rajya Sabha MP Amar Singh also attacked the opposition parties for their hypocrisy. He asked, “I want to ask those opposing the Bill, why are they voting for it?” He further said, “If the government would have brought the bill three months back, the Opposition would have said it’s a ploy before the state assembly elections. However, when the government is bringing it now, they are saying that it is for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.”
Despite all the hurdles and troubles created by the opposition, the BJP successfully managed to get the legislation through to Rajya Sabha despite not having a majority in the Upper House. Even the opposition parties supported and voted in favor of the Bill with ifs and buts, it shows that the Modi government’s move to provide 10% quote to economically weaker sections belonging to the general category is actually a masterstroke.