New Delhi, Dec 18: The 117th constitutional amendment for reservation in promotions in government for SC/STs was passed in the Rajya Sabha on Monday with an overwhelming majority. The votes in favour of quota were with 206 and only 10 voting against it in a House of 243 members.
Very few issues have had such support cutting across the party lines in the divided polity of India. This majority is a worrying factor and exposes the real motive of the politicians. This bill is nothing but appeasement of the votebank. The backward caste is going to gain very little and the misleading politicians are going to make most by the bill. The reality on the ground is that the rate of employment in the government sector is falling over the last decade and there are very few posts up for grabs.
The concept of quota in promotions is a retrograde step and the common man needs to be educated that this kind of quota is detrimental to the society. In plain terms, it divides the society further. There is already a kind of social segregation existing in services sector and quota in promotion will add fire to the animosity of those deserving candidates struck posts because they are not reserved category.
As such, the government services are very bureaucratic and corruption has come to rule because only graft can move files and people. The civil society has been demanding action on issues like time-bound delivery of government services and tackling of corruption at all levels. Instead, the politicians take a fast lane to bring in quota in promotions. We have quota in admissions to educational institutions and after education, reservation in employment. Is that enough in the emancipation of the oppressed?
Meanwhile, anti-corruption crusader and founder of Aam Adami Party Arvind Kejriwal has started a sort of survey on the quota on Facebook.
The BJP pledged its support to the Bill after incorporating specific changes - that the principle of efficiency as enunciated under Article 335 of the Constitution cannot be overlooked. Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley had during the debate on Friday made it clear that while the BJP was in favour of affirmative action for SCs and STs, the government cannot alter the basic structure of the Constitution; otherwise, it would run the risk of being struck down by the courts. The government also agreed to the other demand that those promoted before 1995 will not be affected by the implementation of the new law.
The UPA had been left with little option but to ensure that it got the quota Bill passed in Parliament after the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) publicly accused the government of stalling it. BSP supremo Mayawati had last week attacked the Chair and the government in the Rajya Sabha over the issue.
To assuage her concerns, the Bill was prioritised by the government and taken up for discussion and voting.
Why the Congress or the government took such interest? Both the Congress and the BJP are preparing for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The Congress is willing to provide temporary credit to Mayawati for pushing the bill but in the long run the Congress is going to benefit as it is the ruling establishment that passed the bill. For BJP, the Dalits of Uttar Pradesh are the main target and its national middle class votebank can take solace in the fact that efficiency will be considered for promotions, courtesy the BJP.
The Bill will now go to the Lok Sabha, which has to ratify it for the legislation to become a law. The government has not set a time frame for the Bill to be introduced in the Lower House.
Meanwhile, the quota bill is all set to throw Uttar Pradesh into another caste conflict as the state has seen twice in the past in 1990 and 2006. On both occasions, the issue of reservation to other backward classes was the key poll issue. Unlike the clash between reserved and unreserved castes in the past, this time it has taken shape of Dalit versus rest of the castes and classes, including minorities.