Opposition leaders raised protest in Rajya Sabha over the cabinet’s move to set up the new panel for the Backward Classes with constitution status, and dissolving the existing National Commission for Backward Classes. The opposition MPs charged the government of tinkering with the existing reservation policy.
“This is a big conspiracy… backward classes across the country are feeling cheated. They want to keep some sub-communities within the backward fold out of the reservation,” senior Samajwadi Party MP Ramgopal Yadav said.
“This government wants to slowly finish the reservation policy,” he said, adding “they want to keep Yadav, Kurmi, Gujjar, Lodh, Maurya and Kushwaha out of the OBC fold”.
JD(U) member Ali Anwar Ansari charged the move is aimed to create difference within the sub-communities among the backward classes.
As the uproar intensified, the treasury intervened, rejecting the Opposition MPs charges.
Union Social Justice minister Thawar Chand Gehlot said the government is steadfast towards the reservation policy for the OBCs, SCs and STs.
“I want to assure that this government is committed to the policy of reservation for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Castes… We have always supported this and will continue to do so”.
Defending the cabinet’s move, Gehlot said granting constitutional status to the OBC commission is in the favour of the poor.
“Modi government has taken a historic decision… this demand for constitutional status has been long pending. This is for the benefit of poor and the backward.”
The opposition members, however, stood by their protest even after minister’s assurance. As they took to the Well of the house raising slogans against the cabinet’s move, the house was adjourned for a brief while.
On Thursday, the union Cabinet gave a go ahead for setting up a National Commission for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes with constitutional status. It also cleared a proposal for dissolving the National Commission for Backward classes and repealing the law under which it was established.
National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) was a statutory body under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment established on August 14, 1993.
While it was authorised to receive representations from the persons belonging to backward classes on various issues like discrimination faced by them, non-implementation of reservation rules by authorities etc, it was not empowered to look into the grievances of people of Other Backward Classes.
Under Article 338(5) read with Article 338(10) of the Constitution, National Commission for Scheduled Castes is the competent authority to look into all the grievances, rights and safeguards relating to Backward Classes.
The Bill to provide constitutional status to the body will be introduced in Parliament soon. The Commission will comprise a Chairperson, a Vice-Chairperson and three other members.
The Cabinet’s decision followed demands for constitutional status for the National Commission for Backward Classes in order to allow it to hear the grievances of OBCs in the manner in which the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and National Commission for Scheduled Tribes do. The latter two are constitutional bodies and not a statutory entity like NCBC.
(With inputs from the PTI)