The 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 to restore the states' power to make their own OBC lists. During the debate on 'The Constitution (127th Amendment) Bill, 2021', several opposition parties, including the Congress, demanded a removal of the 50% cap on reservations, while the government underlined its commitment to social justice.
For the first time since the Monsoon session of the Parliament commenced 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 TR 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.
He said the Bill will restore the states' rights to prepare their own lists of OBCs so that various communities can be given social and economic justice. The minister said the bill should be considered as the 105th Constitution Amendment bill after being renumbered.
Initiating the debate, Congress leader in the Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, extended his party's support to the Bill but criticised the government for the 2018 amendment, saying had the government inserted the suggestion proposed by the opposition, “today's situation would not have arisen”. “You tweaked the Constitution by bringing the 102 Constitution Amendment Bill in 2018 which gave people opportunity to go to the court and finally the Supreme Court removed the states' power,” he said.
Supriya Sure of the NCP said the credit 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 was to address the 50% ceiling on reservation without which the amendment will not fully resolve the issue.
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