Quota bill row: Samajwadi Party workers stop trains at Varanasi

Quota bill row: Samajwadi Party workers stop trains at Varanasi
Varanasi:  Many workers of the Samajwadi Party have stopped trains in Varanasi to protest against the quota in promotions bill. They are also threatening self-immolation.

"We are doing this protest against promotion in reservation bill. All the parties are trying to bake political breads with the help of this bill. We want that this bill should be taken back otherwise we will continue to do this. We can also self-immolate, if this bill is not take back," said Shailesh Singh, Samajwadi Party worker.

"The way BJP, Congress and other political parties are doing this is too bad. Samajwadi Party is against this and we are protesting to support this move of Samajwadi Party president. We demand from President of India to take this bill back otherwise we will do mass movement," said Raju, another party worker.

In Samajwadi Party-ruled Uttar Pradesh, 18 lakh government employees are on strike since last Friday.

Yesterday, the government had managed to pass the bill in the Rajya Sabha, despite strong opposition from the Samajwadi Party. The party is aggressively opposing the bill, mainly because it would upset the party's core vote bank that comprises backward castes and Muslims.

In Rajya Sabha, the bill got the backing of 194 members while 10 voted against the legislation in a House of 245. The Samajwadi Party has nine Rajya Sabha MPs, all of whom voted against the bill. But the bigger hurdle is in the Lok Sabha where the Samajwadi Party has a larger chunk with 23 MPs. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath has said that he will speak to Mr Yadav.

Since the bill seeks to amend the Constitution, it needed a two-third majority to be passed. In the end it was no contest in the Rajya Sabha, with the main Opposition party - the BJP - agreeing to support the bill with some amendments.

The bill's biggest advocate has been Mr Yadav's rival from Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati, who heads the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Her party has 15 Rajya Sabha MPs.

Article 335 of the Constitution provides that the claims of Scheduled Castes and Tribes have to be balanced with maintaining efficiency in administration. The Bill introduced in the Rajya Sabha last week would override Article 335. The BJP shared it concern over this; the government has reportedly agreed to remove this reference through an official amendment to the bill.

There was much chaos in the Upper House all of last week because of protests by Mayawati and Mr Yadav's parliamentarians. The government is worried about squandering more time because it wants Parliament to take up important reforms in the pension and insurance sectors. It has also promised to ensure that the Lok Sabha too approves the quota in promotions Bill before this session of Parliament ends on Thursday, December 20.

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