New Delhi, Sept. 6: The Congress may be in for a long haul if the Bahujan Samaj Party’s campaign to legislate a promotion quota for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes takes off the ground.
BSP leader Mayawati pointedly blamed the Centre and the Congress for not being “sufficiently pro-active” in pushing for the passage of a constitutional amendment for reservation in promotions for SC/STs in government jobs.
The continuing furore in the Rajya Sabha prevented the amendment bill from being taken up today. The current session ends tomorrow.
A Mayawati aide said that from next week, the BSP planned to take the reservation battle to the streets. Its discourse will hammer home the following points:
Since last November — when Rajasthan High Court declared promotion quotas “ultra vires” and rescinded several promotions in the provincial civil services cadre — the BSP had urged the Centre to amend the Constitution.
“Behenji (Mayawati) ran out of patience after the government trotted out one excuse after another. First it was the presidential election, then the vice-presidential election. She saw through the Congress’s games. The leaders wanted to please her and Mulayam Singh Yadav, they needed their votes, so they strung along both. Finally ‘Behenji’ told the Prime Minister and the other leaders that either you bring the amendment or face the wrath of Dalits,” the aide said.
To underline the Congress’s “insincerity”, he said the Union cabinet decided on the amendment at the fag end of a paralysed parliamentary session, “knowing well that it would not go through”.
A press note the BSP issued aid if the Centre was “honest and responsible”, it would have first seriously tried to break the impasse in Parliament by “seeking a middle path” on the coal allocation controversy.
“After all, the coal scam is no less important,” the note said, in a sense echoing the BJP’s stand that reservation in promotions and the coal controversy could not be “de-linked” because they were “symptomatic” of the “cynicism and rot” that has “crept into the establishment”.
The BSP even implored the Centre to speak to leaders of parties, such as the Samajwadi, that are opposed to the amendment.
With an eye on Uttar Pradesh’s Muslim votes that went lock, stock and barrel to the Samajwadi Party in the last Assembly polls, BSP sources said they would propagate the line that the promotion quota issue had brought the BJP, Samajwadi and the Shiv Sena “together”.
“The Rajya Sabha saw the camaraderie engendered between the BJP’s OBC MPs, Mulayam’s MPs and the Sainiks as they stormed into the well of the House, threatening to tear up the bill. What a great alliance, it will work miracles in Maharashtra,” a source said, sarcastically.
A Samajwadi source rubbished the “theory”, claiming: “Many Muslim members were also unhappy with the amendment. It’s not a secular-communal matter.”
Lastly, the BSP is likely to emphasise that the promotion quota was “inseparable” from the overall representation of Dalits in the government sector and that reservations had failed to smash the caste ceiling.
“Statistics prove that SCs are properly represented only in group D jobs because no other caste would want to pick up a broom and clean latrines and clear litter. They are under-represented in proportion to their population in the top levels of the bureaucracy. In PSUs, their numbers are declining because many companies have begun to outsource even group C and D jobs to private contractors who are not bound to implement reservations,” a BSP source said.