In special one-day session, HP Assembly ratifies bill to extend quota for SCs, STs
SHIMLA: The Himachal Pradesh Assembly in its special one-day session on Tuesday ratified by a unanimous voice vote the bill that extends reservation for SCs and STs in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies by another 10 years.
The Constitution (126th) Amendment Bill had already been passed by Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on December 10 and 12, respectively.
Later, it was sent to states for ratification as it requires the consent of at least 50 per cent of the state assemblies before implementation.
Replying to the discussion on the ratification motion, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said all members of the House supported the bill and there was no need to discuss various issues pertaining to history.
“If the Congress legislators say their party had done a lot for Dalits, they should also admit that Pakistan was also created by Congress,” he said.
The CM said Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Rajiv Saizal spoke very well on the issue.
Referring to Leader of Opposition Mukesh Agnihotri, the chief minister said he was not against the discussion on the issue but presumed that all the members would be in favour of the ratification, which was why he had fixed the meeting from 2 pm onwards.
Reacting to Congress MLA Asha Kumari, Thakur admitted that some discrimination against Dalits had existed not only in Chamba but in some other parts of the state as well. Dalits are still served food in separate queues in some parts, he opined.
A lot of positive changes have taken place but more changes are required for bringing in equality, he added.
Not only that, Dalits should have gone forward beyond the upper castes by now so that reservation would not have been required, he said.
Earlier, the chief minister moved the motion for ratification of the bill after it was tabled by Assembly Secretary Yash Paul Sharma.
Earlier while presenting the motion, Thakur said that the Constitution provides reservation for members of SC/ST communities in Lok Sabha and legislative assemblies of states.
The provision was included for 70 years since the enactment of the Constitution on January 26, 1950. Hence, it is scheduled to expire on January 25, 2020. The bill seeks to extend the reservation till January 25, 2030, he added.
Leader of Opposition Agnihotri supported the ratification motion but raised questions on the brief address by the governor.
Supporting the bill, the lone CPI(M) MLA Rakesh Singha said the country failed to provide justice to SCs and STs in the last 70 years, which was why it was required to extend reservation for them in Lok Sabha and state Assemblies.
Chintpurni BJP MLA Balbir Singh said Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was initially against reservation. However Congress MLA Ram Lal Thakur raised objection to Balbir’s utterances and said the previous Congress governments had done a lot for the upliftment of SC/STs.
Minister Saizal said he agreed with some Congress MLAs, who had stated that Dalits are not allowed to enter some temples in the state.
He pointed out that he and Nachan MLA Vinod Kumar were not allowed to enter a temple adding that the society as a whole required to take steps to end this discrimination.
The minister thanked the Sikh gurus for starting the langar system that ended the caste system.
He further stated that Mahatma Gandhi had praised the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for its endeavours to bring equality among various classes of society.
Congress MLA Sukhvinder Sukhu said if the minister was not allowed to enter the temple, he was provided protection under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 formulated by then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.
To this, Saizal said that he wanted to bring to the House the reality outside and it should be taken in that sense only.
Even former Dalit ministers from the Congress would have been denied entry into some temples during the previous Congress regimes, he added.
Congress’ Kumari pointed out that Punjab and Haryana Assemblies are holding their sessions for three days for ratification of the bill.
She called for the state Assembly’s special session to be extended for a longer period to discuss the bill in detail.
Agriculture Minister Ram Lal Markanda, MLAs Harshwardhan Chauhan, Hans Raj, Rakesh Pathania, Jagat Singh Negi and Nand Lal also spoke in support of the bill’s ratification.
Earlier, the special session started with Governor Bandaru Dattatreya’s address at 11 am. In his brief address, he said, “Since this session has been summoned for a particular purpose, therefore, I will not be going into much details.”
The governor said he will discuss the achievements of the government in detail in his address scheduled for the ensuing Budget session.
The House also passed a condolence resolution to express grief over the demise of its former member Ninju Ram, who had breathed his last last month. Ram was elected MLA from Rampur on a Janata Party ticket in 1977.