Mayawati presses demand in Rajya Sabha, rejects proposal of all-party meeting

A bill for providing reservation to SCs/STs in promotions in government jobs will be brought in Parliament within a fortnight, the Rajya Sabha was told on Thursday.

The assurance came after members in both Houses of Parliament cornered the government. The demand was pressed in the Rajya Sabha by the former UP Chief Minister Mayawati (Bahujan Samaj Party), who was supported by leaders from other parties, including D. Raja, Ram Vilas Paswan and Sitaram Yechury.

Taking up cudgels for a Constitutional amendment to correct the situation after the Supreme Court upheld a High Court decision striking down reservation in promotions for SCs/STs introduced by the Uttar Pradesh government, Ms. Mayawati rejected the initial offer for an all-party meeting as too late in the day.

As soon as the House assembled, Ms. Mayawati and her party colleague Satish Chandra Mishra were unyielding to the Chair’s request to raise the issue after the completion of question hour. The BSP chief said she had been raising the demand for a Constitutional amendment since April 30 and the House had discussed the issue threadbare a few days later with the government offering to call an all-party meeting which was never held.

Her demand was backed by the two Left Party leaders – Mr. Raja and Mr. Yechury – as well as Mr. Paswan, all of whom felt there was no point in convening an all-party meeting because this issue had been discussed earlier in the House and also because such an offer held meaning only if Parliament was not in session.

As both sides stuck to their positions, the House was adjourned for some time but normality was restored after the government came up with the offer of introducing a bill the week after next.

Normal proceedings in the Lok Sabha too were disrupted for some time as members demanded that the government bring a Constitution amendment bill for reservation in promotion of Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in State jobs.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal conceded the importance of the issue but pointed out that a response to the Supreme Court order had to be worked out in such a way that it should stand the test of time. “We cannot do it in a hurry, we have to give a considered response,” he said.

Mr. Shailendra Kumar (SP) said there was fear in the minds of a number of SC/ST government employees on the lack of reservation in promotions while Panna Lal Punia (Congress) said Parliament had given SCs/STs the right to reservation in government jobs. Dara Singh Chauhan (BSP) demanded that SC/ST employees should be granted reservation in promotion in government jobs immediately.

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