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Explained: How Opposition, BJP allies cornered govt over SC order on SC/ST quota

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New Delhi, Feb 10: Several political parties, including some NDA allies, cornered the government on the Supreme Court ruling that said state governments were not bound to provide reservations in jobs and promotions.

Congress leader and former party president Rahul Gandhi on Monday lashed out at the BJP-RSS and said that they are against the reservation.

Representational Image

The Congress leader also said that erasing the reservation for the SC/ST/OBC and Dalits were in the DNA of RSS and BJP. "I want to tell SC/ST/OBC and Dalits that we will never let reservations come to an end no matter how much Modi Ji or Mohan Bhagwat dream of it," he said.

The political uproar was caused after the apex court recently ruled that the states are not bound to provide reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in appointments and there is no fundamental right to claim quota in promotions.

However, the government accused the Congress of "politicising the sensitive issue" while the LJP, an NDA constituent, said the Centre should immediately interfere in the matter and put the subject of quota in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution so that no one moves the apex court on these issues.

Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot clarified that the Centre was not asked to file an affidavit in the matter, and said the issue is being discussed in the government at the "highest level" and it will take "appropriate steps" in the matter.

As soon as the Question Hour started, opposition members led by Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury sought to raise the issue in Lok Sabha. He was also joined by members from other parties, including the DMK.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi urged Speaker Om Birla to expunge remarks made by opposition members against the government. Birla said he would look into the issue.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal said that in 2012 there was a Congress government in Uttarakhand and they took a decision on the matter.

"In the matter, the central government has no role. Our government is committed for reservation," Meghwal said.

BJP ally, Lok Janshakti Party also joined the opposition when the party leader Chirag Paswan said, "I request the central government to strengthen the reservation system. We cannot even discuss the issue of ending reservation."

The Ninth Schedule of the Constitution is where the government parks laws which it thinks should be beyond judicial review. It bars the courts, including the Supreme Court, from striking down laws on the ground that it violates fundamental rights.

Other opposition leaders who expressed their concern over the SC order, included Supriya Sule (NCP), Kalyan Banerjee (TMC), Ritesh Pandey (BSP), Anupriya Patel (Apna Dal), E T Mohammed Basheer (IUML) and CPI (M) member A M Ariff.

The sentiments were echoed in Rajya Sabha where Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad and other members demanded that the government file a review petition in the SC, and walked out of the House over its "unsatisfactory" response.

It is a "serious" issue and the entire country is concerned about it, LJP leader and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said.

"There is no need to worry. The Modi government will protect and will do whatever best possible to protect the interest of SCs and STs," Paswan, a Dalit leader, said.

Later, the Congress accused Gehlot of misleading Lok Sabha on the issue and said it would move a privilege motion against him.

The Congress also said it would stage protests and agitations at district level on the issue in the coming weeks to "expose" the Modi government's "conspiracy to end reservation" for STs/SCs and Other Backward Classes.

Congress general secretary (Organisation) KC Venugopal said it is a clear agenda of the BJP to curtail reservation for SCs/STs and backwards and alleged that the RSS has been "sabotaging" reservation to these oppressed sections for years.

Meanwhile, DMK President M K Stalin alleged that the policy of providing reservation was facing peril ever since the BJP assumed office at the Centre.

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also attacked the BJP over the apex court order and alleged that the ruling party was weakening the equal rights given to Dalits and tribals by the Constitution.

with PTI inputs

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