The constitution amendment bill to restore quota in promotions for SC/STs will be the government's next major challenge during this week in Parliament, following its decisive victory in both Houses on the issue of allowing 51% FDI in retail.
The bill, which was introduced by the government during the monsoon session on September 5, has already seen both Houses getting repeatedly disrupted in the winter session.
Unlike FDI in retail, the government's headache in this case is not the numbers, but opposing stands taken by the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP) — both supporting parties.
The BSP, which voted in favour of the government in Rajya Sabha to defeat the opposition motion against FDI, was assured by the ruling UPA that the quota bill would be passed. But the SP, which is opposed to quota in promotions for SC/STs, is determined to scuttle it.
The government is relying on support from opposition parties to wriggle out of the tricky situation. "Except for the SP, all parties have made it clear that they would support the bill," minister of state in the PMO V Narayanasamy said.
The government is also mulling over calling another all-party meeting on the issue to evolve a consensus on how to get the bill passed, in case the SP continues with its vociferous protests inside Parliament. “The bill is listed for Monday again, we will not allow Parliament to function till it is withdrawn,” said SP spokesperson Rajesh Dixit.
During an all-party meeting on August 21, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had given an assurance that his government would provide a "legally sustainable" solution for the restoration of quota in promotions. The proposed 117th constitution amendment bill seeks to amend to remove the term "inadequate representation", as mentioned in Article 16 (4), to justify reservation in promotion and appointments.
BSP chief Mayawati had first raised the issue in Parliament after the SC — on April 28 — struck down her government's decision to provide quota in promotions in Uttar Pradesh.