Rajya Sabha Friday witnessed a peculiar situation when V Vijaysai Reddy of the YSR Congress sought voting on a private member’s bill seeking reservation for OBCs in Lok Sabha and state assemblies.
The government insisted that voting cannot take place in absence of adequate number of members needed for a constituion amendment bill.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said since the Bill seeks to amend the constitution, it requires a majority of 2/3rd members present and voting.
After heated exchanges between the treasury and the opposition, Reddy, who was unwilling to withdraw the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2018 (insertion of new articles 330A and 332A) ultimately staged a walkout.
He said the rules of the House have not been followed and it is “not justified”.
The Bill proposes to ensure a proportionate representation to OBCs in representative bodies — House of the People and the Legislative Assemblies of the State and cutting across party lines, most Rajya Sabha members who participated in the debate, barring a few, supported the private member’s bill.
After the debate, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, in his reply said the founders of the constitution had laid down reservation provisions for the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes after much deliberations and had empowered citizens of the nation through the right and power to vote.
He said that founders of the constitution like Baba Saheb Ambedkar had defined reservation after much deliberation and till 2026 census, seats cannot increase and “if more reservation is given, you will deprive SC/ST reservation.”
He cited the example of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who he said belonged to OBC category but rose to such stature through sheer hardwork and popularity.
Besides, Prasad also named leaders belonging to backward communities like Lalu Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Nitish Kumar, Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Uma Bharti and Karpuri Thakur who, he said, excelled without reservation.
He said in startups, people from such communities were excelling and that India is creating a land of aspiration.
However, Reddy said that of the 14 members who spoke on bill, barring BJP’s Rakesh Sinha, majority supported the bill and YSR party believed in upliftment of SC, ST, minorities and backwards.
He said the population of OBCs is more than 50 percent in all states and justice still eluded them even after seven decades of independence.
Asserting that he was not withdrawing the bill he demanded voting to which the Law Minister said the bill cannot be taken up through simple voting.
Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha Thawar Chand Gehlot said at least 125 members were required and whether in absence of members, Reddy will withdraw it.
Prasad said the BJP government is committed to the welfare of the backward to which Jairam Ramesh (Cong) said this was not a Money Bill and voting should be done.
Prasad however ruled out voting and Deputy Chairman Satyanarayan Jatia who was on the chair said that adequate number of members were not present for voting.
Reddy then staged a walkout saying it should have been raised before the debate.
Earlier, BJP’s Rakesh Sinha, participating in the debate, said there should be a casteless society and the Bill should be withdrawn.