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CIMA Gallary

Maya edge in quota battle

New Delhi, Dec. 13: Mayawati seemed to emerge the day’s winner in the Rajya Sabha tussle over a promotion quota for Dalits and tribals in government jobs, with the Centre apparently writing the script mindful of her support on the FDI vote.

The contentious 117th amendment to the Constitution to provide for the quota seems likely to be passed in the upper House on Monday, with all the parties barring the Samajwadis and the Shiv Sena supporting its enactment after the deletion of a couple of clauses.

Mayawati’s outburst at Rajya Sabha chairperson Hamid Ansari yesterday for failing to have the House function in the face of constant disruption by the Samajwadis, who are opposed to the quota, seemed to have the desired effect today.

Parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath seemed to have planned today’s post-lunch session in a way that would let the Samajwadis have their say and leave, while allowing the House to function.

A Supreme Court directive to the CBI to pursue the assets case against Mulayam Singh Yadav and family had already lowered Samajwadi morale this morning and left them heavily dependent on the Centre’s goodwill. The Sena, also opposed to the bill, stayed away from the House.

The bill introduces the promotion quota to Group A, B and C jobs — D and E already have the reservation. After passage in the Rajya Sabha, the bill will go to the Lok Sabha.

However, the parties and the government agreed to leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley’s suggestion to delete a clause in the draft bill that seeks to remove the norms of efficiency and integrity in promotions for Dalits and tribals. Jaitley said the clause, if retained, might later be struck down by the apex court as unconstitutional.

Before the House sat today, the Prime Minister followed up on a request from Mayawati and spoke to Mulayam and his brother Ram Gopal, asking them to support the bill.

Then, at Kamal Nath’s coaxing, Mayawati offered Ansari an apology of sorts for yesterday’s comments, telling him during the morning session that she “respected” and “trusted” him and hoped he would find a way to have the bill introduced.

Sources said that during the lunch break, Nath persuaded the Samajwadis to attend the House. Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson P.J. Kurien took over proceedings after lunch and minister V. Narayansamy introduced the bill.

As Samajwadi MPs raised a ruckus, Kurien refused to adjourn the House for the day — unlike previous days this session — and, at Nath’s urgings, threatened to call marshals to “chase” the unruly members away. Eventually, after three short adjournments, the Samajwadis walked out.

Before that, when Ram Gopal claimed that “80 per cent” of the MPs would vote against the bill if freed from party whips, there were shouts of “No”.

A constitutional amendment needs at least two-thirds of the votes, with at least half the House’s members present and voting. The Samajwadis and the Sena account for just 13 of the House’s 244 members.