The government on Tuesday introduced a bill in Lok Sabha that seeks to amend the Constitution to provide 10 percent reservation in jobs and educational institutions to the economically backward section in the general category.
The Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill 2019, approved by the Union Cabinet on Monday, was brought in on the last day of the Winter Session of Lok Sabha. Union minister Thaawarchand Gehlot introduced the bill in the House amid protests by Samajwadi Party.
The bill has also faced a fair share of criticism. Speaking for the Congress, KV Thomas agreed in-principle with the bill but questioned the timing calling it a "hasty decision". This also raises questions on the move and whether a major constitutional amendment like this, a few months before the general election is a political afterthought rather than a policy forethought. Moreover, the 10 percent reservation will breach the 50 percent ceiling on reservations set by the Supreme Court of India.
Some have interestingly argued that the Modi government began with the philosophy of Skill India and Mudra Loans to create millions of entrepreneurs and jobs, but it is ironical that it is ending on the same note as the VP Singh and the Mandal Commission.
Yogendra Yadav, president, Swaraj Abhiyan; AK Ganguly, former Judge of the Supreme Court; Sunil Singh, spokesperson of JDU; A Saravanan, spokesperson of DMK; Gopal Krishna Agarwal, spokesperson of the BJP; Khushbu Sundar, spokesperson of Congress and AK Mathur, retired judge of the Supreme Court discussed the bill.
AK Mathur said, “Article 15(4) of the constitution only talks about the advancement of any social and educational backward classes of citizen or for scheduled caste and scheduled tribes. It does not talk about economical backwardness. The very criteria, the very basis on which they are proceeding in my opinion is not the correct approach. This will again lead a Mandal like agitation and it will be very difficult for the courts to solve this riddle.”
Gopal Krishna Agarwal said, “Article 15 and 16, Arun Jaitley has clarified that it talks about empowering the socially backward classes alone and Article 46 provides that government has to come out with policies which empowers other sections of the country citizens like economically backward areas. So there is no conflict.”
Questioning the timing of the bill, Khushbu Sundar said, “We are not critical of it. We are just asking a very valid question because in the last four years and nine months the Modi led BJP government has been having a very good sleep, and just 100 days to the polls they wake up from the deep slumber and they talk about this. What were you doing for four years and nine months?”
Yogendra Yadav too questioned the timing of the bill. Yadav said, “The timing of it all, how sheer cynical can it get? Effectively the last session of parliament without any notice, can anything be more sinister and cynical than this?”