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Bill Battles

Scuffle between MPs on quota bill

TOI-Crest spoke to the floor leaders of the SP and BSP in the Rajya Sabha, Ram Gopal Yadav and Satish Misra, immediately after the scuffle between their MPs over the quota Bill. Both seemed unrepentant about an issue that they believe will help consolidate their caste votes.



Your party seems to be isolated in its opposition to the constitutional amendment for SC/ST reservations in promotions in government jobs. How do you expect to stop the bill without help from other parties?

We may be isolated in Parliament. But we are not isolated among the people. No one wants this Bill to be passed. Lakhs and lakhs of government employees throughout the country are opposed to it.

Will this Bill go the way of the women's reservation Bill, which your party, among others, has successfully stalled for 16 years now?

We are determined to stop the (promotions quota) Bill. We will not allow it to be passed. The Supreme Court has struck down three previous bills on this. It is unconstitutional. If it is passed, there will be protests all over the country.

Can it become an election issue in UP? Will you take it to the people?

Not just in UP. It is an issue in the whole country. We don't have to take it to the people. People will come out on the streets on their own to oppose it. Quotas in promotions will upset the seniority of government employees. Which bureaucrat will allow this to happen?

Will you challenge the Bill in court if it is passed?

Why should we challenge it? There are lakhs of people who will challenge it. And the Supreme Court will strike it down again.

Don't you think scuffles like this lower the dignity of Parliament?

Even in the Vedas and Puranas, it's written that everything is justified in an emergency.



The Supreme Court has struck down SC/ST reservations in promotions three times already. How are you confident that this Bill will hold up?

It is absolutely wrong to say that the SC has rejected reservations (in promotions) as unconstitutional. Reservations for SC/ST in promotions have been in place for nearly 50 years. They were quashed by the Supreme Court in 1993 but restored almost immediately. In its recent order, the Supreme Court has not questioned the constitutionality of reservations in promotions. It simply asked the government for data to show that SCs and STs were insufficiently represented. It also asked the government to define backwardness. The present constitutional amendment Bill will overcome these points so that no loopholes remain.

There is an opinion that the BSP is narrowing its appeal by confining itself

to issues that concern dalits. This Bill is being opposed by other castes. Don't you think your party is limiting its politics instead of broadbasing itself like it did when it won the 2007 assembly elections in UP?

This (reservations for SC/ST) is a core issue for the BSP. We cannot ignore it. We have to fight for the rights of dalits. But our leader, Mayawatiji, has said that she would welcome similar privileges for the OBCs and minorities. That would require a separate constitutional amendment Bill. Right now, we are fighting to pass this one.

Will this Bill become like the women's reservation Bill to which all parties pay lip service but are secretly opposed?

Let us see what the other parties do. We are determined to fight for this Bill and we will not rest till it is passed. The Congress and the BJP have to make their stand clear.

The SP is threatening to take this issue to the streets. How will you counter them?

They are already on the streets in UP. The law and order situation is deteriorating very fast. There have been 2, 000 murders in six months. People in UP are fed up of the SP. They want Mayawati back. We don't need to do anything to counter them.


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