In what appears to be a major political victory for Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati, the government will introduce a bill for amending the constitution to provide quota in promotions to the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) population, in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
The cabinet gave its nod to the controversial bill on Tuesday, which is being seen as a result of the clever yet aggressive posture adopted by Mayawati. Her actions in this regard stumped all major political parties, giving them no option but to support the demand.
While neither the Congress nor the BJP could afford to oppose a pro-social justice move of such magnitude, their cautious approach indicated that both the parties were aware of the pitfalls ahead - including a strong possibility of the move being challenged in the courts.
"The bill will be introduced in Rajya Sabha tomorrow (Wednesday) either at 12 noon or at 2 pm," said the parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Kumar Bansal. He said the government plans to move a waiver notice, which allows for introducing a bill in the House without circulating it to the MPs in advance.
Bansal said the Congress would issue a whip to its Rajya Sabha MPs, asking them to be present in the House.
The bill would require a two-thirds majority, and the presence of half the total number of members during voting.
In a related development, Mayawati and her party colleague, Satish Chandra Mishra, met Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders Arun Jaitley Swaraj and Jaitley, urging them to allow Parliament to function so this bill could be taken up, sources said.
The BJP leaders told her that they would take a final call on the issue after a session of internal discussions.
Mayawati said that as a debate had already taken place on the issue during the last session, the House requires only about one hour for passing the bill. She said her party is not averse to reservation in promotion for Other Backward Classes or for religious minorities.
"The Bahujan Samaj Party will be the first party to welcome this," she said.