Ready to call all-party meeting on issue, says Narayanasamy

Cutting across party lines, Rajya Sabha members on Thursday sought a constitutional amendment to provide for promotion quota in jobs for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the wake of the Supreme Court quashing the Uttar Pradesh government's decision in the matter.

Replying to a short duration discussion, Minister of State for Personnel V. Narayanasamy said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was seized of the issue and the government was willing to call an all-party meeting to arrive at a decision. A comprehensive Bill on reservation was under preparation and would be introduced as soon as possible.

Admitting that more was needed to be done for the weaker sections and the physically challenged, he said various governments in the past had brought amendments to provide more privileges to these sections but they had been struck down in courts.

Special drive

Quoting figures, he said the Centre had launched a special drive in 2008 to clear the backlog in recruitment of officials belonging to SCs, STs and OBCs. Through sustained efforts, the government managed to clear nearly 75 per cent of the backlog.

The Bahujan Samaj Party, which raised the issue, was not satisfied with the reply. Its members led by party leader Mayawati staged a walk-out.

The BJP, the CPI and the CPI(M) also accused the government of delaying the issue and sought a time frame for the all-party meeting. “Is the government contemplating including reservation in private sector jobs,” asked D. Raja (CPI).

Earlier, intervening in the discussion, Minister for Law and Minorities Salman Khurshid said the government was committed to empowering backward communities and providing them reservation in government jobs in proportion to their population. He said the maximum limit of 50 per cent reservation for SCs, STs and OBCs tied the hands of the government.

Initiating the discussion, Satish Chandra Misra (BSP) sought a constitutional amendment in this session itself. “Looking at the gravity of the situation it is necessary to have such an intervention… a situation has arisen that the rights of the SCs and STs are being affected,” he said.

Seeking the support of the political parties to bring in an amendment, Mr. Misra said that was the only remedy. Every State and the Centre had asserted that quota be reserved for SCs/STs as per their population and if quota had not been reached, then adequate representation for SCs/STs would not be there.

Supporting Mr. Misra's demand, Bhalchand Mungekar (Congress) said the reservation policy was enshrined in the Constitution and the quota system had proved to be an effective instrument to bridge the gap between SCs/STs and the mainstream section.

He pointed out that there was no secretary in the Government of India who belonged to SC or ST, while there were only a few SC/ST officers in the rank of director.

T.K. Rangarajan (CPI-M) said the panel for promotion should include a member from this category.

Thawar Chand Gehlot (BJP) sought a review of the Supreme Court's ruling or carrying out necessary amendments to the Constitution to negate the judgment.

Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav also demanded amendments to the Constitution to continue to protect the rights of the SCs and STs. He said it was the Mulayam Singh government in Uttar Pradesh that had passed a law providing 21 per cent reservation in promotion for SCs and two per cent for STs.

Trinamool Congress members Sukhendu Sekhar Roy also supported the demand for a constitutional amendment to provide for reservation in promotions.

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