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Tuesday, Oct 15, 2019

Government brings bill in Lok Sabha on quota for economically weak, debate begins

The Centre on Tuesday tabled in Lok Sabha a bill for 10 per cent reservation in jobs and educational institutions for economically weaker sections among upper caste

india Updated: Jan 08, 2019 17:10 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Lok Sabha has begun a debate on  a constitution amendment bill to introduce 10 per cent reservation for poorer sections among general category aspirants for jobs and educational institutions.
Lok Sabha has begun a debate on a constitution amendment bill to introduce 10 per cent reservation for poorer sections among general category aspirants for jobs and educational institutions.(PTI)
         

A constitution amendment bill to introduce 10 per cent reservation for poorer sections among general category aspirants for jobs and educational institutions reached the Lok Sabha on Tuesday. Union minister Thawar Chand Gehlot tabled the bill in the Lok Sabha that has started a discussion on the bill ahead of a vote on its passage.

The discussion comes just a day after the Union Cabinet cleared the draft legislation which BJP leaders have variously described as a ‘masterstroke’ and a ‘game changer’.

The Congress and opposition parties such as Mayawati’s BSP see the BJP-led national coalition’s bill as an attempt to reach out to the upper caste ahead of general elections a few months later. But they have made it clear that they will support the legislation in parliament.

The bill has to be passed in each House by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members present and voting.

Also read | Modi govt okays 10% quota in general category. Here’s who will benefit

After that, it will have to be passed by at least half of all state legislatures. Asked whether the Congress will support a bill for the quota in Parliament, Surjewala said, “The son or daughter of a person who is economically poor should get their share in education and employment. We will support all steps for this.”

Social Justice Minister Gehlot told the Lok Sabha that the bill seeks to benefit people suffering due to ‘economic incapacity’.

“The economically weaker sections have largely remained excluded from attending higher educational institutions and employment on account of their financial incapacity,” the bill said.

The benefits of general reservation are largely unavailable to them and the amendment proposed seeks to rectify that, the bill adds.

People who have an annual income less than 8 lakh, own less than 5 acre farm land, have house smaller than 1,000 sq feet in a town or a 100 sq yard house in notified municipal area would qualify for the proposed quotas.

The 10 per cent quota covers nearly 190 million people from the general category and is seen as an effort to reach out to upper caste groups and once-dominant agrarian communities such as the Patidars, Jats, Gujjars and Marathas who have been lobbying for reservation.

The upper castes have a significant share in population in northern and central India states such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and others. The Jats and Gujjars dominate Haryana, Rajasthan and western Uttar Pradesh.

Also read | ‘Election stunt’: Mayawati on Centre’s move to give 10% quota to economically weak

With Modi, a leader from the backward community, as the prime minister and party’s most prominent face, the BJP reaped benefits of its growing acceptance among the non-Yadav backward communities in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and others. All this while, the upper castes, the BJP’s traditional voters, remained loyal to the party.

But there had been indications in the recent state elections that a section of the upper castes could shift. A BJP general secretary said that the party suffered in Chhattisgarh because of a complete shift of OBC votes towards the Congress.

“Of late, there was a realisation about a sense of disenchantment among the upper castes too. The Congress’s ability to draw upper caste voters towards itself in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh was a worry. We needed to correct this situation,” a union minister said.

First Published: Jan 08, 2019 13:38 IST

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