New Delhi: It was a day of high drama in Parliament as the quota bill was introduced and discussed in the Rajya Sabha amid loud protests and adjournments. Creating chaos in the House over the issue was the Samajwadi Party (SP), which went on to stage a walkout over the issue, even as Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati gave a strong push to the bill, seeking passage of the amendments.
During the proceeding of the House, MPs from the Samajwadi Party rushed to the well of the House, chanting slogans and demanding the withdrawal of the bill. Following this, there were noisy scenes in the Upper House of Parliament. The situation turned worse and the Speaker had to even evict one Samajwadi Party MP while the party stages a walkout as the bill was taken up for discussion.
However, former Uttar Pradesh chief minister and BSP chief Mayawati pushed for the bill while addressing the House. Making a strong case for the bill, she said that according to data, people from the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) communities needed reservation in promotions in government services. It is being seen as a quid pro quo for Mayawati's support to the government on the vote on foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail in the Rajya Sabha.
Mayawati said, "We are in favour of promotion for backward classes. The amendment is applicable for just SC/ST section thus OBC cannot be included under it." The BSP chief further pointed that her party was never opposed to quota in promotion to those from the backward classes and was also in favour of giving reservation to people from the upper caste who are economically weak.
Speaking about the issue outside Parliament, Samajwadi Party MP Ram Gopal Yadav said that party would continue to protest as it wanted the bill to withdrawn. He alleged that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government was working under the pressure of the BSP.
He said, "We will continue to protest, want this bill to be withdrawn. The government is acting under the pressure of the BSP...we will participate in the discussion and oppose the bill." The SP leader likened the situation inside the House to that of the epic Mahabharata where "everyone sat witnessing injustice".
While there was uproar in the Rajya Sabha over the quota bill, as many as 18 lakh government employees and officers went on a flash strike with immediate effect to protest against the introduction of it in Parliament. The emergency services were, however, exempted from the strike. Demonstrations were also planned across the state.
The voting on the quota bill is likely to take place in the Rajya Sabha on Monday. Referring to the voting, Congress leader Rajiv Shukla said, "It has been decided that we will pass the quota bill on Monday."
The CPM also supported the quota bill in Parliament asking the Samajwadi Party to not disrupt the House on the issue. The CPM said it supported constitutional amendments to this effect and suggested creation of "supernumerary post" to enable officers get their due.
Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is likely to move two amendments to the bill.
Earlier on Thursday, moving the Constitution (117th Amendment) Bill, 2012, Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy said it was important in the backdrop of backwardness of the Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes and their inadequate representation in government jobs.
With an aim of garnering maximum support, government incorporated some crucial elements like 22 per cent cap on promotions for which consideration of Annual Confidential Report (ACR) will be crucial.
The bill, which is strongly opposed by Samajwadi Party, got conditional support from the BJP and clear cut backing from some other parties like the BSP, the CPI-M, the CPI, the Trinamool Congress and the JD(U). However, the Shiv Sena did not support the bill. Voting on the bill, which will require two-third support for its passage, is expected to take place on Monday.
(With Additional Inputs from PTI)