Bill to pro­vide con­sti­tu­tional sta­tus to OBC panel gets LS nod

Mint Asia ST - - News - BGY YAN VA RMA & A NUJA

The

rul­ing Bharatiya Janata Party (Bjp)-led Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance (NDA) came to­gether with op­po­si­tion par­ties in the Lok Sabha on Thurs­day, 2 Au­gust, in a rare show of con­sen­sus, to unan­i­mously pass the 123rd Con­sti­tu­tional Amend­ment bill, 2018 that pro­vides con­sti­tu­tional sta­tus to the com­mis­sion for other back­ward classes (OBCS).

Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi and Congress pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi were present in the Lower House when the bill was passed with 406 votes in its favour and none against.

Se­nior lead­ers of the BJP said that the long­stand­ing de­mand of OBC com­mu­nity could be re­alised be­cause of the ef­forts of the Union govern­ment un­der Modi, re­it­er­at­ing that the NDA was work­ing for the up­lift­ment of the back­wards and fi­nan­cially weaker sec­tions.

“When Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance came to power, the Prime Min­is­ter had cat­e­gor­i­cally stated that the govern­ment is ded­i­cated to (the up­lift­ment of the) back­wards and the fi­nan­cially weaker sec­tions of the coun­try. The pas­sage of the bill is re­al­i­sa­tion of the prom­ise made to the peo­ple of the coun­try. Soon af­ter com­ing to power, the Prime Min­is­ter took a de­ci­sion to give con­sti­tu­tional sta­tus to the OBC com­mis­sion,” said Thawar Chand Gehlot, min­is­ter of so­cial jus­tice and em­pow­er­ment dur­ing his re­ply in Par­lia­ment on the bill.

The bill seeks to grant con­sti­tu­tional sta­tus to the Na­tional Com­mis­sion on Back­ward Classes (NCBC), on a par with the Na­tional Com­mis­sion for Sched­uled Castes (NCSC) and the Na­tional Com­mis­sion for Sched­uled Tribes (NCST).

The cru­cial con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment comes at a time when the Union cabi­net had passed a new leg­is­la­tion to be in­tro­duced in Par­lia­ment to re­store pro­vi­sions of the law on atroc­i­ties against sched­uled castes (SC) and sched­uled tribes (ST) af­ter safe­guards were in­tro­duced by the Supreme Court ear­lier this year.

The pas­sage of the con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment and de­ci­sion of the govern­ment on SC and ST sends a clear mes­sage that BJP un­der Modi is try­ing to reach out to the so­cially and fi­nan­cially weaker sec­tions of the peo­ple be­fore the 2019 gen­eral elec­tions. The BJP lead­er­ship has been con­sis­tently mak­ing ef­forts to ex­pand the voter base of the party and reach out to the weaker sec­tions of the peo­ple.

While all po­lit­i­cal par­ties joined hands for the pas­sage of the con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment, sev­eral po­lit­i­cal par­ties, in­clud­ing the Sa­ma­jwadi Party (SP), the Na­tion­al­ist Congress Party (NCP), and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), de­manded that the cen­tre should carry out caste-based cen­sus in the coun­try to find out the per­cent­age of pop­u­la­tion of each caste in the coun­try.

“Congress party com­pletely sup­ports and we are not op­posed to the bill in any man­ner...but it has been four years since this govern­ment came, why is this process be­ing started when only eight months for elec­tions are left? We hope this will not just be an elec­tion rally is­sue and the govern­ment will en­sure ef­fec­tive im­ple­men­ta­tion?” said Tam­rad­waj Sahu, a se­nior Congress leader.

The govern­ment should look at a sep­a­rate min­istry for OBCS to ad­dress their con­cerns, Sahu added.

The de­mand for caste-based cen­sus also echoed from sev­eral other par­ties.

“We have no rea­son to fight with any com­mu­nity. The BJP is not ready for a caste-based cen­sus to be car­ried out in the coun­try and we feel even the Congress party is not agree­able to the de­mand,” Dhar­men­dra Ya­dav, se­nior SP leader and mem­ber of Par­lia­ment, said in the Lok Sabha.

gyan.v@livemint.com

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