2.30 pm: Congress leader demands reservation for OBC in promotion
An OBC leader in Congress has demanded that the backward sections should also be included in the proposal for reservation in promotion for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe which was cleared by the Union Cabinet today.
Congress MP in Rajya Sabha V Hanumantha Rao, a prominent OBC leader from Andhra Pradesh, said there is a sizable backward class in the country and it should be given reservation in promotion as is proposed to be done for the SCs and STs. “We should also get justice. A delegation of OBC leaders will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi to plead our case,” Rao said outside Parliament House.
2.06pm: Rajya Sabha adjourned till 4pm
The Rajya Sabha re-convened at 2pm, but continuing protests by the BJP over coal block allocations forced the Rajya Sabha to be adjourned till 4 pm.
1.55pm: BJP in favour of SC/ST Promotions bill
The BJP says it will support the SC/ST promotions quota bill, but added that some of its members had reservations and would suggest amendments.
“We are supporting the bill. But some members have some reservations. We will discuss it and suggest some amendments,” Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told IANS.
It is unclear if this means that the party will temporarily halt its Parliamentary agitation in order to pass the bill.
The Samajwadi Party (SP) has however vowed that it will not allow the bill to be passed in Parliament.
1.20pm: The BJP has cautiously welcomed the CBI raids across the country in relation to the Coalgate scam, but said that they still stood by their demand that all coal blocks that were allocated between 2004 and 2009, be cancelled immediately.
BJP spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy speaking to the media, added that they were highly doubtful that the CBI would be able to conduct an impartial inquiry into the issue, when the coal Minister at the time was the sitting Prime Minister of the country.
12.45pm: Samajawadi Party opposes SC/ST Promotions quota
Reacting to news that the cabinet had cleared the SC/ST Promotions quota, the Samajawadi Party said it opposed the bill on the basis that while the reservation of jobs for SCs/STs and OBC candidates was acceptable, reservations in promotions was not a good idea.
The statement came despite an earlier party assertion that they wanted a similar provision for the OBCs in job promotions.
Speaking to the media, SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav said, “The Cabinet’s decision is against natural justice. We will continue to oppose this amended Bill. This is a diversionary tactic of the government to divert attention from the ongoing coal blocks allocations”.
While sources in the government said that the Samajwadi Party leaders have been assured that OBCs will also be extended this facility in the near future, Union Minister Salman Khurshid said the Congress will try to get the party to agree to support the Bill.
“We hope that the Samajwadi Party will be on board. It was a unanimous decision. It is not a political googly. It was an honest attempt,” he said.
12.23pm: Mayawati appeals to NDA to pass promotion quota bill
Bahujan Samajawadi Party Chief Mayawati has welcomed the cabinet decision to clear the SC/ST promotions quota, and has appealed to the government and opposition to put aside their differences over Coalgate for even half an hour so that the bill can be pleased.
Speaking to reporters outside Parliament Mayawati said, “Parliament is not functioning due to Coalgate. I appeal to the BJP/ NDA to allow the bill on SC/ST quota for promotion to be passed. I appeal to the NDA to spend 30mins, 1 hour, 1.5 hours… whatever it takes to pass this bill”.
The BSP leader added that her party had fought very hard to bring in the bill, adding that it would “allow the backward class to stand on their own feet”.
12.10pm:Cabinet passes SC/ST promotion quota bill
The cabinet has passed the SC/ST promotion quota bill, and is expected to introduce it to the house in the next two days.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had promised the provision of a “legally sustainable” solution to the demand raised during an all-party meeting on 21 August.
All political parties — with the exception of the Samajwadi Party — had backed the demand for quota in promotions for scheduled caste and scheduled tribe members, first raised by Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati.
The proposed bill seeks to amend at least four articles of the constitution to enable the government to provide quota in promotions to SC/STs. It seeks to remove the term “inadequate representation”, mentioned in Article 16 (4) to justify reservation in promotion and appointments, and also delink the term “efficiency of administration” from the claims of SCs/STs for jobs and promotions, mentioned in Article 335.
Changes will also be made in articles 341 and 342 of the constitution, following the advice of the government’s top law officer, Attorney General GE Vahanvati, on the issue.
12.08pm: Log jam continues, Parliament adjourned again
The Lok Sabha functioned for just eight minutes before being adjourned for the day, but managed to pass the ‘Institution for Mental Health & Neuro-Sciences Bill’ during that time.
12.05: The Rajya Sabha has been adjourned till 2pm. The Lok Sabha is still laying papers in the house.
12.00pm: Parliament sesssions have resumed in both houses, but the chanting and opposition protests refuse to die down. Both houses are trying to conduct business, but are unlikely to be able to do so for too long. The Lok Sabha passed three bills yesterday, including one relating to the sexual harassment of women in the workplace. It will be interesting to see if that will be done again.
11.30am: Despite the Parliament impasse over Coalgate, Minister for Coal, Sri Prakash Jaiswal has said that the CBI action against five companies proves that the BJP is wrong in accusing the government. Jaiswal’s comments came even as the CBI filed FIRs against five private companies and began raids.
11.09am: Rajya Sabha protests will not be televised
Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari has ruled that protests in the Rajya Sabha will not be televised or put on record. Speaking as MPs rushed towards the well of the house, Ansari shouted “Nothing will go on record, Nothing will be televised!”, prompting an instant shut down of the Rajya Sabha television feed.
11.00am: Parliament adjourned till noon
It began, it ended. The Lok Sabha has been adjourned till noon, a mere two minutes after the session started. The start of the session saw opposition legislators make a mad rush towards the well of the house in the Lok Sabha. The Rajya Sabha saw two minutes of silence for an obituary reading, but was almost immediately adjourned as MPs advanced towards the well.
10.45am: Prepare for another monsoon session washout
Not much chance of Parliament functioning today either, with little to no chance of the government and main opposition BJP coming to a compromise.
The BJP is insistent in its demands that the Prime Minister resign, that the Supreme Court look into the CAG report on coal block allocation, and that all allocations of coal mines be cancelled immediately. Until this happens, they insist that they will not stop their campaign of disrupting proceedings in both houses of Parliament.
The government however remains unfazed despite the fact that neither house of Parliament has seen much work done for ten straight days. Finance Minister P Chidambaram categorically ruled out the possibility of giving in to any of the Opposition’s demands, and said that seeking the Prime Minister’s resignation was an “outrageous demand”.
“I have heard and read several statements by leaders of the BJP…I think it is widely accepted that the demand for the resignation of the Prime Minister is an outrageous demand,” Chidambaram told reporters in New Delhi.
He also ruled out cancelling any of the allocations of coal blocks. “The demand for cancellation of all 142 coal blocks allocated after 2004 is not founded on sound logic…. It (cancellation) cannot be done through diktat or arbitrary orders,” he said.
“There is a procedure for it and that procedure is underway,” he said.
Reiterating that the government was ready for a debate on the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report on coal blocks allocation, the minister said, “The place to discuss this (the CAG report) is the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, but unfortunately that debate is not taking place.”