New Delhi, Feb 9 (PTI) Some opposition members in the Rajya Sabha on Friday claimed that the government was trying to dilute the reservation policy as they referred to the University Grants Commission's draft guidelines on filling reserved posts in higher education institutes.
The UGC had last month removed from its website the draft guidelines suggesting “de-reservation” of reserved posts if enough candidates from SC, ST and OBC categories were not available, following a controversy over the issue.
The government had also clarified that not a single post would be de-reserved and that there was no scope for ambiguity about reservations after the introduction of the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers' Cadre) Act, 2019.
Participating in a debate on bills that seek to modify the lists of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Jammu and Kashmir, Trinamool Congress member Jawhar Sircar expressed apprehension that the reservation policy is being nibbled away and is sought to be diluted by the present government.
"It is not in the interest of the nation to seek excuses and to keep diluting the order. It started with the de-reservation of SCs and STs in education, tomorrow, it would extend to employment and other sectors," he said.
There is a feeling among the Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) people that they are being pushed to the wall, he said.
"There is a feeling that this government is lousy, indulgent when it comes to reservation," he said, referring to the points raised by Neeraj Dangi of the Congress, who raised the issue of the de-reservation guidelines of the UGC.
"Please let us take a firm resolution across the table that de-reservation is a crime. It should not be touched. Whereas if you could not find suitable candidates even after the second or third attempt, dilute the provision by 10 to 20 per cent but please do not touch on reservation," he said.
Neeraj Dangi of the Congress mentioned the UGC draft guidelines, which faced backlash, and said work is going on to end reservation gradually.
He also raised the growing number of crimes against the people from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
In his speech, Sircar also questioned the policy of extending the benefits of SC and ST reservation selectively on the base of religion.
"It is very strange that selective Muslim tribes have been brought under the Schedule Tribe order whereas Muslims are debarred by and large from availing of SC & ST facilities," he said.
If a tribal person has adopted Christianity as his religion of his own volition or whatever historical reasons, he is also debarred.
Referring to one of the bills, Sircar said, "But here you bring a constitutional order bringing one section of the Muslims as ST to give them the reservation privilege. Basically it is divide and rule." Alla Ayodhya Rami Reddy of the YSRCP demanded a separate ministry for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) which could address the challenges faced by them effectively.
"This proposed ministry will ensure effective implementation of OBS quota in education institutions and employment. It will also oversee the policies for the improvement of socio-economic conditions (of OBCs)," he said, while supporting the bills.
John Brittas of the CPI(M) said there was a commitment by the government to restore Jammu and Kashmir's statehood so that the democratic process could resume. He also referred to a recent protest in Laddakh demanding statehood, in which people across party and religion lines participated.
Sandosh Kumar P of the CPI said the government claims a return of normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir but earlier this week two persons were shot dead by terrorists in Srinagar.
"We all support OBC reservation but where is the available data," he said, adding there should be a comprehensive census and then only the government should move forward.
Aditya Prasad of the BJP said these bills will provide rights to the backward classes.
Ryaga Krishnaiah of the YSRCP supported the bills.
A A Rahim of the CPI(M) said termed the move "vote-bank politics". This is just a continuation of the delimitation process in Jammu and Kashmir, which was another divisive and vote-bank politics. He also raised the issue of a rise in the number of atrocities against SC and ST people in Jammu and Kashmir.
M Thambidurai of the AIADMK suggested like Tamil Nadu, there should be 50 per cent women reservation in local bodies in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Rajya Sabha on Friday cleared the Jammu and Kashmir Local Bodies Laws (Amendment) Bill-2024, the Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order (Amendment) Bill, 2024, and the The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2024.
The first bill seeks to provide reservation to Other Backward Classes in panchayats and municipalities in Jammu and Kashmir and bring consistency in the local body laws of the Union territory with the provisions of the Constitution.
The second bill seeks to add four groups -- Paddari, Pahari, Gadda Brahmin and Koli -- in the list of Scheduled Tribes in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2024, adds Valmiki community as a synonym of Chura, Balmiki, Bhangi, and Mehtar communities in the list of Scheduled Castes in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Lok Sabha had cleared the bills earlier this week. PTI KRH SMN