Parliament crippled over coal blocks, quota bill introduced (Roundup)

September 5th, 2012 - 11:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, Sep 5 (IANS) Parliament was repeatedly disrupted for the 11th day Wednesday as the BJP continued its protest over the allocation of coal blocks even as the government brought a bill on quotas in promotions for Dalits and tribals, which saw the SP and the BSP locking horns and the BJP terming its introduction a diversionary tactic.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has not allowed parliament to function for the past two weeks, demanding Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s resignation the controversial coal blocks allocation.

The promotion quota bill, approved by the cabinet Tuesday, was introduced in the upper house by Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office V. Naryanasamy, amid vociferous protests by the Samajwadi Party (SP) members.

The BJP suspected foul play on the part of the government and said the bill’s introduction was aimed at taking away attention from lapses in the coal blocks allocation.

The party said the bill was brought hurriedly in a very suspicious manner, and the government had no intention of getting it passed.

However, the fate of the bill remained uncertain. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said it would be listed again Thursday and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde hinting that there was little time left in the current session that ends Sep 7.

“The bill has been brought in a very suspicious manner. There was no discussion on it after the all-party meeting, not even a whisper in the business advisory committee. All of a sudden, on a day when CBI raids are on, the government passes the bill in the cabinet, and on the very next day brings it to the Rajya Sabha,” BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

“This is a tactic by the government to divert attention from the corruption issue,” he said.

The Congress denied the charge and said quota in promotions was not a new idea.

“The bill is not to counter the coal blocks issue…it was made clear in the all-party meet in August that we would bring the legislation this session,” Rural development Minister Jairam Ramesh said.

“Quota in promotions existed for 40 years between 1955-1995,” he said.

Congress spokesperson Renuka Choudhury said the bill’s introduction reflected the party’s commitment to social justice.

Ramesh said while the SP’s position was known, the BJP’s response to the bill was “cynical and despicable”.

The members of Bahujan Samaj Party, the SP’s rival in Uttar Pradesh, locked horns over the issue in the house.

BSP chief Mayawati blamed both the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) for delaying the passage of the bill.

“Both alliances have political motives. The Congress delayed it because of presidential elections. The BJP is delaying it now because of political reasons,” said Mayawati.

Mayawati said she had asked BJP leader Sushma Swaraj to help pass the bill but the party and its allies did not heed the request.

The BJP hit back at her alleging she was hand in glove with the government.

“We seriously doubt Mayawati’s intention to fight against corruption. The government is using the BSP as a shield,” said Prasad.

Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav said his party would hit the streets against the bill.

In the Rajya Sabha, the scene turned ugly when SP member Naresh Agarwal and BSP member Avtar Singh Karimpuri virtually came to blows. Agarwal blamed Karimpuri for the incident.

“He did this on the direction of his party leaders. It is not as per parliamentary traditions. I will submit a written complaint,” Agarwal said.

Karimpuri, however, refused to comment.

Soon after the bill was introduced, the presiding officer adjourned the house till 2 p.m. and later for the day as the din continued.

In the Lok Sabha, the BJP’s protests over coal blocks allocation forced the chair to adjourn the house till Thursday even as SP members raised slogans against the promotions quota.

The proposed bill aims to amend at least four articles of the constitution.

It seeks to remove the term “inadequate representation”, mentioned in Article 16(4) to justify reservation in promotion and appointments, and also de-link the term “efficiency of administration” from the claims of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for jobs and promotions, mentioned in Article 335.

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