RS members scuffle over SC/ST Bill

SP, BSP clash over promotion quota
Last Updated 05 September 2012, 19:51 IST

The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday witnessed the ugly scene of two members nearly coming to blows over a contentious bill on reservation for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes (SC/ST) in promotion in government jobs.

In the melee, the government introduced the Constitution amendment bill, which the House will attempt to take up on Thursday. It is unlikely that the bill will be debated and voted in the light of strong opposition from the Samajwadi Party (SP), an ally of the ruling UPA.

Commotion prevailed in the House of Elders as soon as Deputy Chairman P J Kurien asked the government to move the Constitution (117th Amendment) Bill, 2012.

Samajwadi members protested against the move with party member Naresh Agrawal rushing towards the well of the House. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) member Avatar Singh Karimpuri grabbed Agrawal by his collar to prevent him from reaching the well of the House.

Agrawal tried to retaliate, leading to pushing and jostling between the two as other members, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, watched the scene.

As the scuffle continued for a few minutes, the BSP members, including Brajesh Pathak, intervened and held back Karimpuri.

Immediately marshals were summoned. Even as the SP and BSP members were involved the scuffle, Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy introduced the bill which was welcomed by the BSP members, including their leader Mayawati, by thumping of their desks. Agrawal and other members of the SP continued their protest by moving to the well of the House and shouted that quota in promotion would not be allowed. Agrawal made a vain attempt to reach the Chair, apparently to snatch papers from Kurien.

Significantly, Narayanasamy, whose seat is on the corner of the second row, was seated in the middle of third row, with two Congress members flanking him. This strategy was to prevent any member from reaching the minister and avoid a repeat of an incident during the debate on the Lokpal Bill in the Rajya Sabha in the last winter session. At that time, Rashtriya Janata Dal member Rajniti Prasad had snatched the bill from Narayanasamy and destroyed the papers.

When the entire drama on quota continued on Wednesday, BJP members rushed to the well of the House shouting slogans and demanding the resignation of the Prime Minister over allocation of coal blocks. Soon after the introduction of the bill, the House was adjourned till 2 pm. Even after the lunch break, the scene was not much different with the SP members refusing to allow normal business. The bill faces an uncertain future with Sushil Kumar Shinde, Home Minister and Leader of the Lok Sabha, saying that there was “not enough time to pass it during the current session.”

However, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said the government would bring the bill in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday. The Congress has already issued a whip to its members asking them to be present and vote for the bill.

Agrawal said he would file a written complaint against Karimpuri for “misbehaving” with him.

(Published 05 September 2012, 07:25 IST)

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