Shah seeks explanation from absent BJP MPs

A day after government faced embarrassment in Rajya Sabha as some amendments moved by the Opposition to a Constitution amendment bill on backward classes were passed, forcing a major alteration in the legislation.

BJP chief Amit Shah who is also making an entry into the upper house from Gujarat is expected to seek an explanation from absentee Rajya Sabha.

BJP National President Amit Shah

BJP National President Amit Shah

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar told media that Shah took a serious view of the absence of party MPs from Rajya Sabha on Monday.

“When the party issues a whip, members must be present in the House. The party president has taken a serious view of the absence of members. He said it should not have happened and must not be repeated,” the Parliamentary Affairs Minister said.

The Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill, 2017 which provides for setting up of a National Commission for Backward Classes, was passed after dropping of Clause 3, to which four amendments moved by the Congress were approved by the House earlier.

A TV grab of the voting process in the Rajya Sabha.

A TV grab of the voting process in the Rajya Sabha.

The dropped clause pertains to the insertion of a new article 338B about the constitution and powers of the National Commission for Backward Classes.

This was reflected in the voting on the four Opposition amendments which were passed by 74 to 52 votes, causing an embarrassment for the ruling side which has a strength of 89, if JD(U)’s 10 members are also counted with them.

The amended bill will now have to be returned to the Lok Sabha for its fresh approval. The Lower House had already passed the bill but in the Upper House, it had been referred to a Select Committee as the Opposition had wanted more scrutiny.