Oppn protests melt as LS passes OBC Bill unanimously

Opposition protests melt as LS passes OBC bill unanimously

The Lok Sabha passed the Bill with a 385 members voting in favour and none against it

Parliament of India. Credit: PTI Photo

The three-week long protests over Pegasus revelations in Lok Sabha melted on Tuesday as members discussed and passed a politically sensitive bill that seeks to restore the states' powers to draw up OBC lists.

The opposition targeted the Modi government, accusing it of ignoring their warnings in 2018 when Parliament granted constitutional status to the National Commission on Backward Classes and in the process, deprived the rights of states to make OBC lists.

“The Government could have avoided wasting time and resources required for Supreme Court petitions and the effort of passing another Constitution Amendment Bill if it had listened to the warnings and advice of the Opposition in 2018,” Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said.

Read: Opposition MPs may face suspension over ruckus in Rajya Sabha

Opposition parties put their protests over Pegasus snooping allegations and repeal of farm laws on pause and debated the Constitution (127th) Amendment Bill and demanded that the government also remove the 50 per cent ceiling on reservations.

The Lok Sabha passed the Bill with 385 members voting in favour and none against it.

Earlier during the debate, BJP member Sanghmitra Maurya slammed the successive Congress governments for "denying the backward classes their rights and appeasing them only during elections".

Senior BJP leader Bhupendra Yadav rejected the Congress' claim that it had introduced the reservation policy and asserted that the move was initiated by the makers of the Constitution and not by any political party.

Trinamool members Sudip Bandyopadhyay and Kalyan Banerjee wondered why the Modi government was "scared" to discuss the Pegasus snooping allegations that had stalled proceedings in Parliament for three weeks.

Responding to the debate, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Virendra Kumar cited several Supreme Court observations to assert that the demand by Lok Sabha members to increase the 50 per cent ceiling on reservations require “careful legal scrutiny” as Constitutional issues were involved.

During the discussion, A M Ariff of the CPI-M accused the NDA government of diluting federalism and said that the Bill was being brought in view of the upcoming Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.

E T Mohammed Basheer (IUML) said that the government has crushed the crux of reservation policy by adding economic criteria which was "not at all good in any respect".