Lok Sabha passes key bill to restore states' power to make their own OBC lists


New Delhi: Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed a constitutional amendment bill to restore the powers of the states to make their own OBC lists, with 385 members voting in its favour and no member opposing it.

Some amendments moved by opposition members were rejected by the House.

A constitutional amendment bill requires a special majority for passage in both Houses of Parliament.

There should be a majority of the total membership of the House and a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of that House present and voting.

Lok Sabha on Tuesday witnessed a thaw in the logjam over the Pegasus snooping row as members cutting across party lines voiced support for a constitutional amendment bill.

Several Opposition parties, including the Congress, demanded a removal of the 50 per cent cap on reservations, while the government underlined its commitment to social justice.

For the first time since the Monsoon session of Parliament began on July 19, Lok Sabha witnessed a debate in an orderly manner as the Opposition put their protests demanding a debate over the Pegasus snooping allegations on hold for the bill.

During the debate, many leaders such as BJP ally JD(U)'s Lalan Singh, Samajwadi Party's Akhilesh Yadav, BSP's Ritesh Pandey and DMK's T R Baalu demanded a caste census be conducted throughout the country.

Moving the bill for consideration and passage, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Virendra Kumar described 'The Constitution (127th Amendment) Bill, 2021' as a historic legislation as 671 castes in the country would benefit from it.

Revolutionary Socialist Party's N K Premchandra said that the Opposition had repeatedly warned the government that its legislation would be interpreted by the court in the manner it was done, but the Centre did not listen and that is why the new bill was needed.

Participating in the discussion, Supriya Sule (NCP) said the credit should for this amendment bill should be given to the Maharashtra government which requested the Centre to do address the issue of OBC reservation.

Sule said another important issue along with this legislation is to address the 50 per cent ceiling on reservation without which the amendment will not fully resolve the issue. YSR Congress Party and Shiv Sena also voiced support for the bill.

During the discussion, A M Ariff of the CPM accused the NDA government of diluting federalism and said that the bill was being brought in view of the upcoming Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.

E T Mohammed Basheer (IUML) said that the government has crushed the crux of reservation policy by adding economic criteria which was not at all good but bad in every respect. He demanded that the reservation should be extended to private sector.

(with inputs from PTI)

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