The ruling BJP tried to corner the Congress in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday for allegedly not doing enough for the SCs, STs and OBCs despite ruling the country for decades, and claimed that it was only the governments of which the Jan Sangh or the Bharatiya Janata Party was a part that actually worked for the uplift of the deprived sections of the society.
The Upper House of Parliament was debating the Constitution (127th Amendment) Bill, 2021 that seeks to restore the states’ power to prepare their own OBC lists. It has already been cleared by the Lok Sabha.
As on the other days of the Monsoon Session of Parliament, the House proceedings were disrupted in the opening hour due to an Opposition uproar over various issues, including the Pegasus snooping row and farm laws.
However, the logjam was ended and the House took up the key legislation.
“No one else except (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi will work for the SCs, STs and OBCs,” senior BJP leader Sushil Modi said while participating in the discussion initiated by Congress member Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who blamed the government for the delay in bringing the key amendment bill in Parliament.
Countering Singhvi, Sushil Modi stressed that the government was quick to bring the bill. To support his point, the BJP leader said the Centre filed a review petition in the Supreme Court on May 13, within eight days of the decision on the matter by the top court.
“How much faster can it be?” he quipped.
The Supreme Court dismissed the review petition on July 1.
The Centre, Sushil Modi said had made its intention clear in the Select Committee, the Lok Sabha, the Rajya Sabha, in the review petition and on other occasions as well that it does not want to deprive the states of the right to prepare their own OBC lists.
“Can any central government deprive the state governments of their rights?” he said as he reeled out the steps taken by different BJP governments at the Centre.
Sushil Modi said the Centre’s intention regarding the states” powers on OBC lists was always clear, yet there was a ruling by the Supreme Court.
The Constitution amendment bill has been brought to restore the states” powers to have their own lists of OBCs for providing reservation, the former deputy chief minister of Bihar said.
Hitting out at the grand old party for “not doing enough” for the backward classes despite ruling the country for years, he sought to know why the Congress government did not set up a Backward Classes Commission under Article 340 of the Constitution and rejected the report of the Kaka Kalelkar Commission submitted in 1955.
“If there were gaps in the Kaka Kalelkar report, why didn’t you set up a new commission?” he asked.
Sushil Modi said it was during Moraji Desai’s government, when the Jan Sangh was a part of it, that the B P Mandal Commission was formed in 1979. But the commission submitted its report in 1980, when the Congress was in power.
“You kept the Kaka Kalelkar report in the cold storage and did not even implement the Mandal Commission report for nine years,” he said, adding that it was implemented during the V P Singh government of which the BJP was a part.
“In this country, the backward classes have been given their rights by those governments of which the Jan Sangh or the BJP was a part,” Sushil Modi said.
He also criticised the Congress for not providing constitutional status to the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) and the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC).
The NCST was accorded the constitutional status by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government and in case of the NCBC, it was the Narendra Modi government that did the needful, he pointed out.
The BJP leader credited the current government for ensuring reservation for the economically weaker sections among the upper castes.
He also sought to corner the Congress for not installing a portrait of B R Ambedkar in the Central Hall of Parliament and not conferring Bharat Ratna on him.