|Mayawati outside the Rajya Sabha after the voting on Monday. (PTI)
New Delhi, Dec. 17: Mayawati today won the Rajya Sabha battle over a promotion quota for Dalits and tribals but the Samajwadi Party claimed it would win the political war.
An overwhelming majority passed the constitutional amendment needed for the reservation, with only the nine Samajwadi members and a single Independent, Md Adeeb, voting against.
But Samajwadi sources said their stand would help the party outmanoeuvre both the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, where state government employees are on an indefinite strike in protest at the legislation.
The sources said that after today’s vote, the party hoped to make inroads into the BJP’s upper caste vote bank, which has at times shifted to Mayawati but always eluded the Samajwadis.
Under the rules for constitutional amendments, the bill will now go to the President for his assent before being tabled in the Lok Sabha, possibly on Wednesday.
Of the 216 members present, 206 voted in favour and 10 against. The four members of the Shiv Sena, the only party other than the Samajwadis to oppose the legislation, stayed away.
The Samajwadis had walked out on Thursday when the Centre, under Mayawati’s threat of rethinking her support, introduced the bill.
Samajwadi House leader Ram Gopal Yadav said his party didn’t walk out today because it wanted to put its stand “on record”.
He said the Lok Sabha vote may turn out different but that appears unlikely. However, he added that his party would challenge the amendment’s constitutional validity in the Supreme Court.
“Our party is not against reservation for Dalits and tribals,” Ram Gopal claimed. “But this concept of consequential seniority where a junior government employee will leapfrog seniors will affect efficiency and demoralise the administration.”
The Union cabinet had approved the amendment bill on September 5 under BSP pressure after the Supreme Court had quashed as unconstitutional a decision by the former Mayawati government providing for the reservation in the heartland state.
On a BJP request, the Centre said it would write to the states to see that those already promoted are “not adversely affected”.
After the bill was passed, Mayawati walked up to the Prime Minister to thank him.