The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday cleared a Bill which paved the way for 10 per cent quota in jobs and education for people from general category who belong to economically weaker sections. The Bill, which is being seen as PM Narendra Modi's 'masterstroke' just a few months ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha election, received 165 votes in favour, while seven members of the Upper House voted against it after a marathon over 10-hour debate.
In the last leg of the legislative process, the Bill will now go to the President Ram Nath Kovind for approval. And once its gets his ascent, it will become the law that will give economically weaker sections in the general category 10 per cent reservation in education as well as central and state government jobs.
Welcoming the support yielded by Rajya Sabha members, PM Modi described the passage of the Constitution (One Hundred And Twenty-Fourth Amendment) Bill, 2019 as a victory for social justice.
"Delighted the Rajya Sabha has passed The Constitution (One Hundred And Twenty-Fourth Amendment) Bill, 2019. Glad to see such widespread support for the Bill. The House also witnessed a vibrant debate, where several members expressed their insightful opinions," PM Modi tweeted.
Delighted the Rajya Sabha has passed The Constitution (One Hundred And Twenty-Fourth Amendment) Bill, 2019.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) January 9, 2019
Glad to see such widespread support for the Bill.
The House also witnessed a vibrant debate, where several members expressed their insightful opinions.
"Passage of The Constitution (One Hundred And Twenty-Fourth Amendment) Bill, 2019 in both Houses of Parliament is a victory for social justice. It ensures a wider canvas for our Yuva Shakti to showcase their prowess and contribute towards India’s transformation. By passing The Constitution (One Hundred And Twenty-Fourth Amendment) Bill, 2019, we pay tributes to the makers of our Constitution and the great freedom fighters, who envisioned an India that is strong and inclusive," the PM went on to add.
'Slog over six', says Govt
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad used cricketing analogy to justify the Modi government's move to introduce the Bill at the end of the Winter Session saying 'sixes are hit only in the slog overs' and said more such 'sixers' are in the pipeline.
"Cricket mein chhakka slog over mein lagta hai, jab match close hota hai tab lagta hai. Agar aapko issi pe pareshani hai, to yeh pehla chakka nahi hai, aur chakke aane wale hain. (It rains sixes in slog overs in a cricket match. Wait for more such sixes)," Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said while speaking during the debate.
Several opposition members raised doubts about the legality of the bill in view of the Supreme Court setting limit of quotas at 50 per cent.
Congress and other opposition parties also raised doubts over the move actually benefiting the deserving when, they said, government jobs are drying and the economy is witnessing a jobless growth.
Questioning the criteria defined to classify economically backward classes in general category as persons with annual family income of Rs 8 lakh when income tax exemption limit is only Rs 2.5 lakh, they also asked why in the four-and-half- years the Modi government did not bring women's reservation bill and one for reservation for SCs in promotion.
The Bill comes just four months ahead of Lok Sabha polls and weeks after BJP faced the wrath of the upper castes especially in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan following its aggressive push to win over backward classes, and is being seen as an attempt by the party to win over the upper castes.
WATCH: Rajya Sabha passes historic Bill for 10 per cent reservation for 'poor' among Upper castes
(With inputs from agencies)