Rajya Sabha on Tuesday witnessed a complete washout of proceedings following the Opposition protests over vacancies in the commissions for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes (OBCs). MPs from the Congress, Samajwadi Party, JD (U) and the BSP continued their protests throughout the day even as the government said the process to fill up these vacancies was on.
Demanding an immediate discussion on the issue, the opposition MPs rushed to the Well and shouted slogans against the government, prompting Deputy Chairman P J Kurien finally adjourn the House for the day at 3.10 pm. The House had witnessed four adjournments prior to that.
Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot said the delay in appointments was due to the model code of conduct enforced because of elections in five states. The process of filling up the vacancies has started and the chairmen for the SC Commission and the Safai Karamchari Ayog have already been appointed, he added. He also said when Congress-led government was in power, there was a delay of three and five months in filling up vacancies in 2007 and 2010.
The issue was first raised during the Zero Hour soon after the House assembled with Samajwadi Party’s Ramgopal Yadav and BSP’s Mayawati vociferously raising the issue. Yadav said the posts of chairmen, vice chairmen and members were lying vacant in National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, National Commission for Backward Classes and National Commission for Minorities.
He also claimed that the Commission for the Backward Classes was being renamed to take a fresh look at castes which should be categorised as OBCs. Mayawati asked why the BJP government had left several posts at these constitutional commissions vacant for a long time and when will these posts be filled. Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad sought to know whether the government would commit itself to appoint the chairmen and members in all the commissions within a week and whether an immediate discussion on the issue is allowed or not.