Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Should reservations extend to 

promotions in government jobs?

Lucknow:  The Supreme Court's decision to strike down the Uttar Pradesh government's policy of reservation to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in promotions has sparked a controversy.

Upholding the Allahabad High Court's decision that quashed the policy of reservation in promotion formulated during Mayawati regime, the Supreme Court said the government has not given enough data to justify the move to promote employees on a caste basis.

But Mayawati grabbed the opportunity to flex her political muscle at the Centre for the cause that is critical to her core votebank, the Dalits. "There should be a reservation in promotion in the government jobs. We should get this bill passed in this session only,"Mayawati said in the Rajya Sabha on Monday. She also demanded a Constitutional amendment for this.

In an exception made by the Chair in the Rajya Sabha, Mayawati was granted the rare privilege of raising the issue before the Question Hour.

The Congress saw common cause. PL Punia, the Chairman of the national Scheduled Castes Commission, backed the issue in Lok Sabha asking the government to seek a clarification from the courts.

The government says it is willing to examine the fallout of the court's judgment.

The Supreme Court's order had stunned the Dalit organisations who plan to file a review petition in the top court. "We will fight this legally. We have also written to the BSP chief and Congress leader PL Punia," said Awdesh Verma, president, Aarakshan Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, an umbrella organisation of Dalit employees' unions.
Despite the legal victory, the anti-quota activists understand the political challenges that lie ahead.

"Following the Supreme Court order, we are asking the leaders of all the parties to come down clean on what their stand is," said Shailendra Dubey, President, Sarvajan Hitay Sanrakshan Samiti.

Mayawati seems to be getting the support from her former aide-turned-foe PL Punia. Mr Punia, however, says he raised the issue independently.

"I raised the issue independently, she raised it independently, so there is no liaison between the BSP and Congress as far as this issue is concerned," said Mr Punia.

The issue of quota debate come at a time when presidential polls are just round the corner. And parties like the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) may use it as a bargaining plank.

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