Quota bill introduced in Rajya Sabha, SP stages walkout

The Rajya Sabha witnessed high voltage drama today as the quota for promotions bill was moved in the House with two  Samajwadi Party MPs being directed to leave while rest of the SP members opted for a walk out. The tabling of the amendment bill also resulted in a flash strike by 18 lakh government employees in Uttar Pradesh.

Trouble began when the Constitution (117th Amendment) Bill, 2012 was moved by Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy for consideration and passing, for the third time in the last four days.

Parliament of India. Reuters

The first time he stood to speak to move the bill, seven of the nine members of SP trooped into the Well. They shouted slogans against the proposed legislation.

An angry Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien asked the members to take their seats or leave the house instead of protesting, and issued multiple warnings to the shouting SP members that he would take action against them if they failed to leave the House.

As slogan shouting continued, Kurien named SP member Arvind Kumar Singh for disobeying the Chair by invoking Rule 255 and asked him to leave the House.

However, Singh refused to leave and continued shouting slogans after which Kurien adjourned the House for 10 minutes.

When the House re-assembled, similar situation persisted, prompting Kurien to issue repeated warnings to the member to leave or he would be evicted with the use of marshals.

As Singh refused to relent, the Chair asked SP leader in the House Ram Gopal Yadav to persuade the member to leave.

Yadav, however, argued that if the Chair wanted to expel all the SP members, it should take the "sense of the House" on it.

"If there is sense of House, then we have no objection. We will leave the House," he said.

As the sloganeering continued  another member Choudhry Munabbar Saleem was named by Kurien and asked him to withdraw. Kurien threatened that if the member does not leave on his own, marshals would be called to oust him. At this, members of BJP and Left were on their feet, protesting against any use of marshals.

"I understand the feelings of members, I will not act against your feelings and concerns. But enforcing rules is responsibility not only of the Chair but of members also," Kurien said.

Finally all the party's MPs walked out of the Rajya Sabha following which proceedings began.

After the bill was introduced in the Upper House, Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley said that they had no objection to the social inclusion through quotas but believed that the current amendment to the Constitution was not a step in the right direction.

"The principle that has to be kept in mind while bringing in reservations is that it should not create reverse discrimination," the BJP leader told the House.

BSP leader Mayawati, who has been pushing for the bill to be passed by Parliament, also endorsed the Bill and said she was hopeful that all parties would vote in favour of it.

However, even as the debate was on in the Upper House of Parliament, news trickled in that 18 lakh government employees, who are members of unions led by the Samajwadi Party, were going a flash strike to protest against the bill being introduced. Emergency services have been exempted from participating in the strike.