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Can quota in promotion end Parliament logjam?

By Sushmita Dutta | Last Updated: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 - 19:42
Sushmita Dutta
Sushi's Musings

The ‘quota’ system or the idea of reservations took birth in Indian society so that the under-privileged classes could be provided with level-playing field. An entire generation could have been empowered had it been used in rationally. But sadly it has fallen prey to the games of politicians for garnering votes in a blatant manner.

The Cabinet on September 04 gave its node to a proposal for reservation to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for promotion in state jobs. But it defies all logic of applying quota in the realm of promotions? Does it mean that a person falling within the bracket of SC/STs can work less and still get promoted? How illogical!

All political parties except Samajwadi Party (SP) have been demanding quota in promotions. SP had openly aired its displeasure in the all party meet held by the Prime Minister in August regarding the constitutional amendment for promotion on the basis of quota as they were vehemently demanding the inclusion of the OBC’s in the proposal.

The proposed bill seeks to amend at least four articles of the Constitution to enable the government to provide promotion quota to SC/STs. This bill will no doubt be welcomed by the Dalits also who have been languishing for a long time in backward alleys of our country.

But there is also a motive of reaping rich political dividends by introducing such a quota mechanism. Reservation was devised to provide temporary relief to certain classes of people in the society. But it is clear that for vote bank politics the ruling class kept extending the time period for reservations. And the more it is extended, the harder it will be for political class to roll it back.

The timing of the bill, this time, has raised many eyebrows. It has been introduced at a time when the government is trying to save its face in the wake of coal blocks allocations issue and the BJP not letting the Parliament function.

However, Congress has been desperately trying to find some way or the other to break the logjam in Parliament. Senior Congress leaders have been repeatedly asking the saffron party to come back to the citadel of democracy and debate the contentious issue. However, the main Opposition has not been in mood to relent. In such a scenario, passing the bill may be Congress’ last ditch effort to divert the Opposition’s attention from ‘coalgate’ so that normal functioning of Parliament could resume.

Even BSP supremo Mayawati along with her party colleague Satish Chandra Mishra met Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and her Rajya Sabha counterpart Arun Jaitley, urging them to allow Parliament to function so that the bill could be taken up.

In a patch-up spree, the UPA chief Sonia Gandhi had called up BJP leader Sushma Swaraj to find a solution to the Parliament logjam, but the dialogue ended in an inconclusive manner with the BJP sticking to the twin demands of cancellation of 142 coal blocks and setting up of an independent and fair probe in the coal issue. The BJP also reiterated that there was no climb-down on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s resignation.

Amid all this the Lok Sabha on September 03 passed a bill which sought to protect women, including lakhs employed as domestic workers, from sexual harassment at workplace.

And in what may be read as a hurried move, the government cleared a proposal to provide reservation for SCs and ST in promotion in state jobs.

This paves the way for introduction of a Constitution Amendment Bill in the monsoon session of Parliament.

The government is aware of the fact that the BJP is in favour of the bill and thus if we read between the lines, the Congress is in a great hurry to pass this bill with the hope, even if it is a farfetched one, that this move might break the logjam in Parliament.

On the other hand, if we see the larger picture, these soaps may just help the beleaguered Congress to woo the voters in 2014 General Elections. The motive of the Congress might be latent but not so difficult to figure out.

First Published: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 - 19:42

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