Reservation For Poor Upper Castes: Quota Bill Faces Rajya Sabha Test Today
File image of Rajya Sabha (Photo credit: IANS)

New Delhi, January 9: Prime Minister Narendra Modi led government will table the Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill, 2019 in Rajya Sabha today, where the BJP-led NDA lacks a majority. The Bill, aims to provide 10 per cent quota for economically weaker sections of upper castes in government service and higher educational institutions, was passed by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday with 323 members voting in its favour and only three voting against it.

Although virtually all opposition parties supported the passage of the Bill in the lower house of Parliament, they are likely to take a tougher stand in Rajya Sabha on the basis of their sheer numbers. The UPA has 112 members, including 50 MPs of the Congress, in the upper house, which currently has a strength of 244. The NDA has a strength of 93, including 73 lawmakers of the BJP. Mayawati Slams Modi Govt Over 10 Per Cent Upper Caste Reservation.

The NDA is way short of the half-way mark of 123. The remaining 39 members of other parties are unattached to either NDA or UPA and are likely to play an important role in the passage of the contentious legislation. According to sources, opposition parties are unhappy over the extension of the Rajya Sabha proceedings by a day. While the Congress is supporting the Bill, other opposition parties may create hurdle in its passage.

While opposition parties called the Bill an “election stunt” ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, PM Narendra Modi hailed the passage of the legislation terming it a "landmark" moment in the country's history and reflects his government's commitment to Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas. BJP president Amit Shah, in his statement, said the passage of the Bill was also a lesson for the parties which for years have been practising politics of appeasement.

Influential castes such as Marathas, Kapus, Jats and Patidars have hit the streets in the past few years, seeking reservation benefits. Their protests at times have turned violent. According to political observers, sections of upper castes had drifted from the BJP of late following its aggressive push to win over backward classes and Dalits, and the Bill will help the party to win them over.