Even as she hit out against the Congress for its “suspect and non-serious” commitment towards ensuring the passage of the SC/ST Quota in Promotions Bill, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati pledged her party's support to UPA-II for the remaining one-and-a-half years of its term.
“The chaos that ensued in the Lok Sabha on December 19 and 20 was sponsored by the Congress. The party has done nothing concrete for the legislation,” Mayawati told a gathering of mediapersons. “However, we cannot precipitate matters by withdrawing support to the government.”
Such a step, Mayawati said, would provide the Congress with the “excuse” that the BSP has prevented them from having the bill passed. “The BSP will take the issue to the people. If the Congress does not carry through its promise of having the legislation enacted, it will get a fitting response from the electorate and suffer heavily in the 2014 elections.”
Elaborating on the “fake commitment” issue, she said the UPA-I had not bothered to go in for a review of a 2006 SC (M Nagraj-versus-Union of India) judgment, which upheld the appeal against the constitutional validity of providing SC/ST quota in promotions while imposing three conditions on the state for making the law enforceable. “The law providing quota in reservations has existed since 1955, but has been derailed by subsequent court judgments,” she said.
Remaining non-committal on supporting Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi for the Prime Minister’s post, Mayawati said it was “for the BJP to put him up (as the PM candidate) or put him down”. When asked if she would take up the prime ministerial challenge herself, she said, “When such a situation arises, nobody will be able to stop it.”
The BSP chief remained “unimpressed” with Congress president Sonia Gandhi's action of trying to snatch back the draft bill from the hands of SP member Yashvir Singh on December 19. “The net result of this action was that the Lok Sabha got adjourned, and the quota issue was left dangling.”
She said the Lok Sabha speaker had provoked the BJP into causing further chaos in the Lok Sabha on December 20 by preventing LK Advani from speaking on the issue. “Marshals were summoned to evict the agitating SP members and passing the women's reservation bill in the RS. But the government did not resort to similar action on the quota bill in the LS,” she said, adding that the BSP had supported the
FDI bill in return for taking up the quota bill.
BSP chief Mayawati spoke to Hindustan Times on her party’s strategy on the quota bill and a range of issues.
Excerpts from the interview:
How hopeful are you of having the SC/ST quota in promotion bill passed?
The UPA government is non-serious and fake in its commitment of having the legislation enacted. The drama and chaos that happened in the Lok Sabha on the quota bill on December 19 and 20 was entirely sponsored by the Congress.
When Samajwadi Party members created ruckus and tore a copy of the women’s reservation bill in the Rajya Sabha, marshals had been called to evict these members and bring the house in order to ensure passage of the bill. But similar action was not resorted to in respect of the quota bill in the Lok Sabha.
All parties except the Samajwadi party and the Shiv Sena supported and voted for the bill in the Rajya Sabha. So, there is a good chance of the bill being passed in the Lok Sabha as well. What do you feel?
The Congress and the BJP want to seek political mileage of the issue, but are not serious about having the legislation enacted. They are both “chacha/bhatija” (uncle/nephew) parties. There is not much to choose between them. Both parties are different sides of the same coin.
So, are you hinting at a Congress-BJP gang up to prevent passage of the quota bill in the Lok Sabha?
Both parties have the same orientation and policies. If any of the parties are true to their commitment on SC/ST welfare, why have they not gone in for a review of the 2006 Supreme Court judgment in the M Nagraj Versus the Union of India case, which upheld the appeal against the constitutional validity of providing SC/ST quota in promotions, while imposing three conditions on the state for making the law enforceable.
The Congress has been in power since 2006, but the party has neither gone in for a review petition in the Supreme Court, nor did it bring a constitutional amendment bill in parliament all these years.
The law providing quota in reservations has existed since 1955, but has been derailed by subsequent court judgments.
The Congress and BJP are obviously on the same side on the quota bill. In the Lok Sabha, when the SP members rushed into the well of the house and were raising slogans, senior BJP member LK Advani had wanted to speak. But Speaker Meira Kumar refused him permission to speak – provoking the BJP members into agitating and creating chaos. The result of this was that the bill got derailed and the House was adjourned.
The BJP has alleged that there was a trade-off between the BSP and the Congress on the FDI issue. Comment.
There was no trade off. Just as the monsoon session of parliament got derailed on the coal scam, we did not want to the winter session to be whitewashed on the FDI issue. Therefore, it was a tactical decision to get the FDI issue out of the way for enabling parliament to take up the quota bill.
Besides, the FDI legislation provides for full authority to the state governments to decide on whether or not to permit FDI entry in multi-brand retail. This is a very positive provision. However, the BSP does not support the policy of allowing FDI entry in multi-brand retail.
In Uttar Pradesh, several campaigns against the quota bill have been happening. Do you feel that that the social structure in the state is getting divided even more keenly on caste lines?
These campaigns are fake. They are all sponsored by the SP government. The SP has spent crores of rupees in trying to whip up the campaign. But the people of UP are very wise and can see through the machinations of such unscrupulous politicians. The SP leaders are only trying to divert people’s attention from its failures on the law and order front.
The law and order situation in UP has reportedly worsened and several riots have happened. How can this situation be brought Under control?
That is for the incumbent government to take effective action. It is ‘jungle-raj’ that prevails there. The law and order situation goes for a toss each time the SP comes to power.
How do you rate Akhilesh Yadav as the chief minister?
Like father, like son.
Gujarat chief minister is being talked about as a prospective Prime Minister. Can the BSP possibly support Modi’s claims for Prime Ministership?
It is for the BJP to put up Modi as the Prime Minsisterial candidate – or to put him down. This question must be put to the BJP. In any case, this is a hypothetical situation.
Are you yourself willing to take up the challenge as the Prime Minister, if such a scenario emerges?
When such a situation emerges, nobody will be able to prevent the possibility. But this is a hypothetical question.
The SP wants quota in promotions for the OBCs and Muslims also. Do you support the idea?
The BSP stands for inclusive growth. The Muslims and OBCs must also get reservations. If separate constitutional amendment bills are brought for Muslims and OBCs, the BSP will support these bills.
But we need to ask the SP government in UP about what they have done to fulfill their commitment to provide 18% reservations to Muslims in educational institutions and government jobs. It is nine months that they have been in power, but have done nothing to fulfill their manifesto promise.