Dalit MPs force govt to shelve legislation

NEW DELHI, Feb 20 : The government, under intense pressure on Thursday from SC-ST MPs on either side of the aisle, was forced to change provisions of a bill that seeks to keep faculty appointments in 47 institutes of excellence from the purview of reservation.

Members from several parties including BJP, BSP, SP and LJP protested against the bill in the Lok Sabha. Parliamentary affairs minister Vayalar Ravi said, “Clause 4 (I), (II),(III) and (IV), clauses 4 (2), 4 (3) and the Schedule will be removed.” These were the clauses of the bill which had generated controversy. If these provisions were part of the bill, it would have ended reservation in teaching in 47 institutions, including IIMs and IITs. The bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha without discussion.

The National Commission for SCs-STs had termed it as a “dangerous bill.” The Commission had objected both to the content of the bill as well as the fact that it was not consulted before the bill was introduced in Parliament.
The bill, along with a spate of other issues including Satyam and the Sri Lankan crisis, rocked the House in the morning disrupting question hour.

The chaos started as soon as the House assembled. BSP members stormed the well of the House raising “UPA is anti-Dalit” slogans. The party alleged that the government had ignored the Backward Classes in the draft legislation of the bill. Amid the din, Mr Ravi was seen trying to placate BJP and BSP members on the issue.

Meanwhile, PMK and MDMK members went into the well of the House demanding that government make efforts to “stop the war” in Sri Lanka. They expressed dissatisfaction with external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee statement on Sri Lanka. The TDP members raised the Satyam issue.

As the uproar continued, a furious Speaker told the members “you do not deserve one paisa of public money.” Mr Chatterjee, who was earlier determined not to break the proceedings of the House, finally adjourned it till noon, but only after venting his anger.

“I think Parliament should be adjourned sine die... public money should not be spent on useless allowances for you,” he said. Describing the members’ behaviour as “most condemnable”, he said “I express my greatest annoyance and condemnation.” But it was the noisy protests by MPs that forced the government to amend the bill.