Lok Sabha passes Constitution Amendment Bill to restore power of States & UTs to make their own OBC lists
he Lok Sabha has unanimously passed the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Seventh Amendment) Bill, 2021. The bill was passed yesterday with more than two-third of majority of the house strength as well as the members present in the house. During division of votes, 385 members voted in favour of the bill and none against. The legislation seeks to restore the power of States and Union Territories to make their own OBC lists. Replying to a debate on the bill, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Dr. Virendra Kumar said, it will empower the state in preparing their own OBC lists. He said, the legislation will also help to strengthen the federal structure of the country.
Dr Kumar reiterated the government’s commitment for the welfare of the OBC community. Dr Kumar said, the bill will protect the interest of the OBC community. Referring to members’ concern, the Minister said, the Supreme Court has always stood by the 50 per cent ceiling limit in reservation. However, he said, this should be further discussed. He said, with the passage of the legislation, reservation for Maratha Community will be taken care of by the State Government.
Initiating the debate, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said, the Opposition is in support of the bill in the interest of the OBC community. He alleged that the government has brought this bill keeping an eye on the Assembly Elections of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Mr Chowdhury said, Congress party has always been at the forefront for the upliftment of the OBC. He questioned the government over Pegasus snooping, saying why the government has not started an investigation into it like other countries. Mr Chowdhury said, many states want to increase the ceiling of reservation. He cited the example of Tamil Nadu, its social movement that led to reservation. He said, reservation is an affirmative action to uplift them.
Sanghamitra Maurya of BJP accused the Congress of bringing NEET in a bid to cancel the reservation. She said, the NEET is based on NCERT syllabus and the poor don’t read this syllabus. She reminded the Congress that the people have rejected them and hence they are losing elections. She lauded the Cabinet for having the highest representation of OBCs.
T.R. Baalu of DMK also raised the issue of removing the ceiling. He also profusely thanked the government for bringing the bill. Mr Baalu remembered the history of reservation and recalled the contribution of Kamaraj and Nehru. Mr Baalu said, V P Singh implemented the Mandal Commission and that is how the 27 per cent reservation for OBCs came into effect.
Supporting the bill, Kalyan Benrjee of TMC said, the constitution is a tool for removal of disparities.
Akhilesh Yadav of Samajwadi Party supporting the bill said that there were several other things he wants to talk. He questioned the intention of the government, since it has not removed the ceiling.
Ritesh Pandey of BSP supported the bill. He, however, accused the government of double standards. He said most of the jobs are contractual or private and wondered where this reservation will be implemented.
NCP MP Supriya Sule thanked the government for sharing the empirical data on the 2011 caste census. She also requested the government to consider removing the ceiling of quota.
Labour and Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav reminded that the Congress didn’t implement the Kaka Kalelkar Commission. He said, the Congress didn’t bring reservation for the OBCs and it was Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government which increased the creamy layer limit. Union Minister and Apna Dal member Anupriya Patel also spoke on the bill.
Dayanidhi Maran of DMK while supporting the bill, alleged that keeping an eye on upcoming elections, the government brought the bill. He demanded the government to release the caste census to do real justice with reservations. Besides N.K. Premachandra of RSP, Asaduddin Owaisi of AIMIM and others participated in the discussion.