Constitutional status for OBC Commission: Bill back in Lok Sabha, exchange halts discussionhttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/obc-panel-bill-back-in-lok-sabha-exchange-halts-discussion-5010682/

Constitutional status for OBC Commission: Bill back in Lok Sabha, exchange halts discussion

The government has refused to include minorities but agreed to incorporate a provision for woman member in the rules.

OBC panel Bill back in LS, exchange halts discussion
LS Speaker Sumitra Mahajan (left), Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai.

The bill to give constitutional status to the OBC Commission was tabled in Lok Sabha Wednesday, the second time in this House after Rajya Sabha had passed some amendments in the last session. The government sought to negate these amendments while attempting to pass the bill the second time.

The amendments passed by Rajya Sabha include inclusion of a member each from the minorities and the women. The government has refused to include minorities but agreed to incorporate a provision for woman member in the rules.

However, the discussion on the Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill 2017 met with an abrupt end after Speaker Sumitra Mahajan adjourned the House for the day at around 2 pm due to heated exchanges between Union minister Giriraj Singh and Trinamool Congress member Kalyan Banerjee.

Giriraj Singh objected to Banerjee’s accusation that the BJP did not take the views of other parties on the matter and suggested that OBCs had opposed the BJP in the Gujarat polls. The minister alleged that the Trinamool member had called him names. Rejecting the charge, Banerjee said the Opposition was being threatened, following which noisy scenes broke out leading to adjournment of the House.

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Earlier, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot tabled the Bill which, he said, seeks to reject the amendments inserted by Rajya Sabha.

The Bill also says that the proposed National Commission for Backward Classes will give its report concerning a state to the state government, and not to the governor as stated in the original bill passed by Lok Sabha in the monsoon session.

Gehlot said Opposition parties in Rajya Sabha had demanded that the Act should make provisions for a woman and a member from minority communities in the commission.

He said he had agreed to make provision for including a woman in the commission in the rules, which will guide its functioning, but there was no need for a quota for minority communities as a Minority Commission already exists.

Congress MP Rajiv Satav said there should be a separate ministry to deal with issues involving OBCs, who make up for over 52% of the population, and demanded that there should be more than five members in the commission to make it more representative. “Don’t make it an ego issue. The government should adopt good suggestions given by the opposition parties,” he said.

Ganesh Singh (BJP) said the government has proved that it was for empowering the OBCs and the Bill underscored this commitment. He asked Gehlot to make Census data public so that the population of different OBC communities could be known.

Singh also sought removal of creamy layer, which bars from reservation those members of backward classes whose family income is above a stipulated limit. Instead, if somebody has benefited from reservation once, should not get that benefit again, he said.