Cong, BJP divided over promotions quota bill; will it pass in Lok Sabha?

Lucknow: The Lok Sabha will today take up the Constitutional amendment bill to provide reservations in promotions for the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and the Scheduled Tribes (STs). The bill has already been passed in the Rajya Sabha despite strong opposition from the Samajwadi Party.

SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav has made it clear that his party will oppose the bill and if the government pushes it and that it may even reconsider support to UPA. The BJP, too, is now worried about losing out its upper caste votebank.

But before the controversial promotion quota bill reaches the Lok Sabha for debate and vote, the BJP and the Congress find themselves caught in a Catch-22 situation.

While both parties are vocally favouring the constitution amendment bill to ensure reservations in promotions for the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and the Scheduled Tribes (STs) and voted en-block in its favour in the Rajya Sabha Monday, fissures in state leaderships of the two parties have begun to worry national leaderships.

PTI

The upper house of parliament passed the Constitution (One Hundred Seventeenth Amendment) Bill, 2012, with 206 members voting for it and 10 against at the end of a debate spread over two days.

While the BJP leadership in Uttar Pradesh has vocally begun to speak against reservations for the SCs and the STs in promotions, the Congress is also coming across opposition on the bill in hushed tones.

State Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Laxmikant Bajpayi has openly sided with the anti-quota protestors, saying the party is not in favour of benefiting one section of society at the cost of another.

"We, as a party, and I, as an individual, have nothing against the deprived SCs/STs getting the reservation but doing it at the cost of other castes is unfair," Bajpayi told IANS.

He said regional parties such as the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) were pushing the state towards a caste war-like situation as was seen during the Mandal Commission days in the 1980s.

"We have taken note of the resentment among the state employees on the issue and have communicated the same to the national leadership," Bajpayi said.

BJP leaders in Uttar Pradesh seem to be jolted by the attack on their party headquarters a few days back when those opposing quota bill barged into the office opposite the state assembly and vandalised property.

With more than 18-lakh government employees against the bill, any support in its favour could spell doom for its Lok Sabha prospects in 2014, a BJP leader said.

Satish Mahana, a legislator from Kanpur and deputy leader of the BJP legislature party, too has raised the red flag against the bill.

"This is a difficult matter that involves the fate of millions and hence I spoke my mind on the matter," Mahana said.

Joining the growing chorus is firebrand BJP leader Yogi Adityanath, who has said he will oppose the bill since it attacks the basic tenets of the constitution.

Sources say there are many other senior BJP leaders who have chosen to raise voices against the bill at party forums.

There is a "churning" in the Congress too, sources say.

Suggesting that there was "some unrest" in the Congress in the state, a senior leader said while they were tied with the party line on quota in promotion, they were worried this could hit the party in the next general elections.

"This is all due to the pressure exerted by (BSP chief) Mayawati. In any case, we will never get the benefit of the passage of the bill and would also lose the support of OBCs (other backward classes) and upper castes," said a senior Congress leader, who did not want to be named.

Both parties appear to be caught between the devil and the deep sea.

Will the promotion quota bill be passed in the Lok Sabha today?

With inputs from IANS