The Union Cabinet on Tuesday approved a bill to amend the Constitution to provide reservation to SCs and STs in government job promotions. Government intends to introduce it in the Rajya Sabha for consideration and passage on Wednesday.

However, there was no confirmation on whether the BJP, which is not allowing functioning of Parliament on the CAG coal allocations report, would let the bill be passed. (A report by PTI quoting unnamed sources said that the party which has no reservations on the bill, has decided not to allow the government to help in passage of any legislation).

The bill is necessitated to circumvent a Supreme Court verdict striking down reservation benefits for SCs and STs in promotions extended by the then Mayawati government in Uttar Pradesh.

Barring the Samajvadi Party (SP) all parties are in favour of its passage.

The SP is not opposed to the proposal per se but wants the benefits to the extended to the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) as well. The party is of the view the envisaged Bill could be struck down the Supreme Court on Constitutional grounds as it has happened before.

In view of the disruption of Parliament for over a week on account of the standoff between the government and the opposition on the CAG report on coal block allocations, it is not certain if the government could manage passage of the bill on Wednesday.

If it is approved by the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, the government intends to move it in the Lok Sabha on Thursday and get it passed.

Apprehending disruption of Parliament on Wednesday as well, BSP chief Mayawati met BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley and appealed to them to co-operate in passage of the bill. The BJP top brass met late in the night but there was no indication on what the party would do.

The bill seeks to amend at least four Articles of the Constitution to enable the government to provide quota in promotions to SC/STs.

Voicing dissent over the bill as approved by the Cabinet, SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav said, "This stand of the cabinet is wrong. The Samajwadi Party is against this and we will continue to protest".

Welcoming the bill Ms. Mayawati said that her party is not averse to reservation in promotion for OBC or for religious minorities. "BSP will be the first party to welcome this".

Bansal’s appeal

IANS reports:

“We will bring a constitutional amendment bill to provide reservations to the SCs/STs in job promotions in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. We are determined to pass it... we appeal to all parties to help pass it,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal told reporters. If passed by the Rajya Sabha, the bill would be brought in the Lok Sabha on Thursday. Mr. Bansal said the government requested the BJP to help it pass the bill.

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