2:02 pm: Rajya Sabha adjourned for day after uproar
The Opposition MPs took no chances on this occasion and were in the well of the House in order to prevent it from being passed.
Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien made multiple appeals to the MPs to return to their seats but they refused to relent. After attempting to restore order, the Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day.
It doesn’t look like any constitutional amendments will be passed today.
1.28pm: BJP addresses SC/ST promotions, but brings focus back to Coalgate
The SC/ST Promotions bill has been the topic of the day with Parliamentarians even resorting to fisticuffs, but the BJP has attempted to re-focus attention on what it thinks is the main issue this monsoon session – Coalgate.
Speaking to reporters outside the Parliament compound, BJP spokesman Ravishankar Prasad reiterated the party demands that the Prime Minister resign, that allocations of coal blocks be cancelled and an impartial probe be ordered and said, “We support social empowerment as long as valid under the constitution. We however first want cancellation of coal blocks and probe.”
Prasad added that they would not allow the government to sidetrack issue of corruption with the constitutional amendment.
Speaking on the row in the Rajya Sabha between a BSP and SP MP however, Prasad said, “We regret the incident of violence in Rajya Sabha. Everyone has right to express opinion in Parliament. We should ensure the stature of Parliament is not sullied by such incidents in Parliament.
Meanwhile Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid speaking on the bill, sought consensus to pass it and said that there were bound to be differences of opinion, but these could be resolved through debate. The Minister added that the Supreme Court would decide on the constitutional validity of the bill, but that as far as the government was concerned, they believed it was in accordance with the law.
1.20 pm: After BSP-SP scuffle in Rajya Sabha, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Cabinet colleagues AK Antony and Sushilkumar Shinde to holds consultations with them.
1.04 pm: SP leader says BSP misbehaved at Maya’s behest
Samajwadi Party MP Naresh Agarwal who was roughed up in Parliament said he was trying to protest against the SC/ ST promotion bill, when some BSP leaders misbehaved with him.
“I was not trying to tear up the promotion quota bill but just trying to protest against it. Some leaders of BSP misbehaved with me at the behest of their leader,” he said.
12:30 pm: No question of backing quota bill, says Mulayam Singh Yadav
“Sarkar chala rahe hain ya mazak hai yeh? (Is this a joke or are they running a government)” Mulayam Singh Yadav told reporters outside Parliament.
However, he’s not bringing up the Other Backward Castes issue anymore and said that it was a joke that a junior official could be promoted purely on the grounds of caste. He also said the manner in which the bill was tabled despite the opposition to it was unconstitutional.
The government had not spoken to the Samajwadi Party before attempting to pass the bill through Parliament, he said.
And he’s promised to continue opposing the passage of the bill. Expect more scuffles in Parliament at 2 pm if the government attempts to pass the bill.
12:25 pm: If voting had taken place the bill would have been passed: Mayawati
The Samajwadi Party did not have the numbers to block the bill from being passed and had prevented the bill from being passed, BSP chief Mayawati said.
“There is no difference between the BJP and Congress any more…when it comes to the SC/ST promotions the BJP and Congress seem the same to us,” she said.
12:20 pm:BSP chief Mayawati blames BJP and Congress for failing to get bill passed
“This amendment could have been passed if the BJP had backed off their demand for the resignation of the Prime Minister,” Mayawati said.
I blame the BJP and Congress for the bill not being passed, she said.
The Congress had failed to bring the bill into Parliament earlier and therefore they are responsible, Mayawati said.
“The government did not bring the bill in the previous session of Parliament due to their political selfishness and wanting to win the Presidential and Vice Presidential elections,” she said.
If the two parties and their allies were to keep their political self interests aside the bill would have been passed, she said.
“This shows that BJP and its allies are anti-Dalit and they don’t want the backward communities to stand on their own feet,” the BSP chief said.
12:15 pm: Bill on reservations in promotions introduced amidst chaos, Rajya Sabha adjourned
The constitutional amendment bill to allow reservations in promotions has been introduced in Parliament.
Despite the slogan shouting by MPs which included the BJP and others, Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien allowed the bill to be tabled by Minister of State V Narayanasamy. In a desperate measure to prevent it from being tabled, MPs from the Opposition stormed the well of the House and prevented proceedings from continuing.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was present in the House, and had a bemused look as he watched Opposition MPs trying to prevent the tabling of the bill and ultimately failing.
However, right after the bill was tabled the House was adjourned till 2 pm.
Two MPs also got into a scuffle with Samajwadi Party MP Naresh Agarwal getting into a pushing match with a BSP MP, as he protested against the bill. Passionate stuff this. Pity it doesn’t extend to other issues.
Doesn’t look like the Opposition MPs will be in their seats at 2 pm to cast their votes though to allow it to be passed by the Upper House of Parliament.
12:00 pm: Parliament resumes, BJP continues shouting slogans
Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha resume amidst slogan shouting by BJP MPs.
However, all eyes on the Treasury benches of the Rajya Sabha to check whether the bill on allowing reservations in promotions would be tabled.
Among the slogans heard in Parliament, one included an MP shouting that they would oppose the constitutional amendment. The BJP MPs continued with their slogans against the government over the CAG report on coal block allocations.
11:35 am: Sushma Swaraj speaks on Telangana issue, not quotas
Speaking at a rally at Jantar Mantar, Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj attacked the government over its inability to create the Telangana state.
“The BJP will support the cause of Telangana….If the BJP government comes to power then in the first three months of power we promise to create the Telangana state,” she said.
However, there’s a caveat, they need to win the Lok Sabha elections for it. Swaraj though it confident that the party can topple the UPA in the next general elections.
“If Parliament was functioning then we would have taken up the issue there and brought it up there,” she said. Swaraj glosses over the fact that the BJP is the one that has been blocking the functioning of Parliament.
She’s also not made any comment on the constitutional amendment bill to allow promotions based on caste, and whether the party will back it. Does her presence at the rally mean she won’t be present in Parliament and the bill is unlikely to be passed after both Houses reconvene at noon?
11:05 am: Both houses of Parliament adjourned till 12 pm
Two minutes. Thats pretty much all it took for both Houses of Parliament to be adjourned till 12 pm.
It’s likely the government will try and move the constitutional amendment bill after the two Houses meet again. Will the BJP relent for the bill?
11:00 am: BJP still disrupting Parliament
BJP MPs are up on their feet and still shouting slogans in the Rajya Sabha against the Prime Minister and the Congress.
The situation’s no different in the Lok Sabha and even stern gazes by Speaker Meira Kumar have not helped.
10:50 am: Congress appeals to all parties to back the bill
Parliamentary Affair Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said he wanted BJP not to disrupt the proceedings today so that the
bill can be taken up.
“We have already lost three weeks due to disruptions. I would request them to let Parliament function for last two days so that important issues could be taken up,” he said.
Minister of State for personnel V Narayanasamy, who will pilot the Constitution Amendment Bill in the upper house,
said the measure is the result of an assurance made by the Prime Minister at an all-party meeting held recently.
“I request Congress and its ally as well as the opposition parties to get the bill passed unanimously,” he told reporters outside Parliament house. PTI
10:40 am: BJP to back quota based promotions?
NDTV reports that the BJP has not committed to supporting the Samajwadi Party in its opposition to the bill.
Ram Gopal Yadav of the Samajwadi Party reportedly called up Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley to seek his support in opposing the passage of the bill but has not received any assurance yet, it said.
Instead the party may take the safe route out and continue disrupting Parliament, the channel reported.
The BJP might be able to retain some pride by not allowing the passage of the bill, given its stand on caste-based policy. It also might help it retain some of its voter base that may not view the passage of this bill too kindly.
However, Times Now’s BJP sources paint a different picture and say that they are willing to support the passage of the bill if Mayawati will back the BJP in the future. The formation of a new alliance in the offing?
The Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut has also been quoted as saying that the Maharashtra-based right wing party will not allow the constitutional amendment bill to be passed “at any cost”. Given the number of Shiv Sena MPs in the Rajya Sabha, one must wonder what he plans to do?
10:00 am: Will the Rajya Sabha pass the amendment to the quota bill
The UPA government is set to push the Constitutional amendment bill to provide reservations in promotions for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Rajya Sabha today.
The Union Cabinet, at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, approved a proposal to amend Article 16(4) of the Constitution to remove the term “inadequate representation” to justify reservation in promotion and appointments.
The legislative action, which comes within four months of the Supreme Court striking down a similar decision by the Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh governments, meets the demand of most of the parties.
The bill will obviate the need for quantifying data on the basis of which such promotions should be granted.
The Constitution Amendment Bill is being brought to end uncertainties with regard to methodology for deciding the promotions, and to bring clarity on the issue. The bill is expected to be put before the Rajya Sabha either at 12 pm or 2 pm.
While the move could allow the government to divert attention from the flak it is facing over the CAG report on coal block allocations, the bill has also put pressure on the BJP to let Parliament function. It will also be interesting to see if the passage of the bill will anger the BJP’s upper caste voter.
However, the move has already been slammed by Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, even as his rival in the state of Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati and her party have backed the bill and urged that all parties form a consensus to approve the bill in the Rajya Sabha.
Singh has been opposing the bill on the grounds that the Other Backward Castes (OBC) category should also be included in the bill so that they can also derive the benefits of it.
However, this is also being seen as a move to isolate Mayawati and to strengthen the support from the upper castes and the OBC community in his home state, which have been largely been undecided on their political choices.
The Congress is hoping to bypass this by moving the bill in the Rajya Sabha, where the Samajwadi Party has only nine MPs as compared to 22 in the Lok Sabha, the Times of India reported.
Mayawati has already met with BJP leaders in order to seek their support and while the BJP has been disrupting Parliament for over a week now, the party has still not disclosed whether it would allow the Upper House of Parliament to function in order to pass the bill.
But for the bill to be passed, the government also needs to ensure that at least 50 percent of the members of the Rajya Sabha are present in the House at the time of the amendment being put to vote and at least two thirds of them vote in favour of it. A lot rests on the Opposition now.