- The step comes amid push for the constitutional amendment bill
- Bill involves an amendment to the Constitution's Article 15,16: Sources
- The bill is expected to be introduced in Lok Sabha by Thawar Chand Gehlot
The ongoing winter session of the Rajya Sabha has been extended by a day till Wednesday amid the Centre's push for a Constitutional amendment bill that will introduce a 10 per cent quota for economically weaker sections under the general category.
Another key bill, which makes instant Triple Talaq a punishable offence, is also pending in Rajya Sabha, The bill has hit a roadblock, with opposition parties standing against the penal provision. They want the bill to be sent to a joint parliamentary committee for scrutiny.
Rajya Sabha officials could not confirm which bill has been slotted for Wednesday, but BJP lawmakers suggested that the quota bill is likely to feature on the agenda.
Coming months before the general elections, the proposed quota bill was approved this afternoon at a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Government sources said the bill -- which will involve an amendment to the Constitution's Article 15 and 16 -- is expected to be introduced in the Lok Sabha tomorrow by Union minister Thawar Chand Gehlot.
Amendment of the constitutional is required in this case since the constitution does not provide for reservation on the ground of economic conditions.
A constitution amendment bill needs to be passed with two-thirds majority of the house. While the government has the numbers in the Lok Sabha, it is the opposition that has the upper hand in the upper house.
Already, several political parties have brushed off the centre's move as a pre-election gimmick. But others gave a cautious response, given the huge swathe of people the proposed law is expected to help.
Among the major castes to benefit would be Brahmins, Rajputs (Thakurs), Jats, Marathas, Bhumihars, and several trading castes including Kapus and Kammas. The economically deprived among poor among the other religions will also benefit.
The Congress said it would support a bill to grant 10 per cent quota to economically weaker sections from the general category, but questioned the timing of the government's decision.
"Without interfering with the constitutional mandate of reservation given to Dalits, adivasis and backward classes in any manner, we have always supported that those who are genuinely poor and who are not covered under these sections may also be given benefit of opportunities and reservation, both in education and employment," said senior party leader Randeep Surjewala.
"I will be very happy if the weaker sections get the job. But my question is, in the name of so called election, can a government cheat the people or cheat the unemployed youth," said West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
Former union minister Yashwant Sinha, who recently quit the BJP, called the move a "jumla". "The proposal is bristling with legal complications and there is no time for getting it passed through both houses of parliament. Government stands completely exposed," his tweet read.
Opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav said, "If they are giving 10% reservation for 15% population, they will have to give 90% quotas for the rest... why don't they reveal the caste census".
The bill overshoots the 50 per cent cap on quota placed by the Supreme Court and any increase above 60 per cent could invite judicial scrutiny and is unlikely to get immediate parliamentary approval.