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10% quota for poor upper castes clears LS hurdle

10% quota for poor upper castes clears LS hurdle
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NEW DELHI: Ahead of the general elections, a bill to provide 10 per cent quota in jobs and education to general category candidates who belong to economically weaker sections was passed by the Lok Sabha Tuesday. The bill, which, in a first, will extend reservation to upper castes, is likely to be presented in Rajya Sabha Wednesday. The bill stands a fair chance in Rajya Sabha, with several opposition parties supporting it despite reservations. Rajya Sabha session has been extended till Wednesday.

The Congress, which initially indicated it would support the bill, Tuesday said it would prefer a parliamentary committee to look into the matter. The shift drew a reality check from Union Minister Arun Jaitley, who pointed out that in its manifesto, the party supported the issue. The opposition, he said, "faces test whether they support the advancement of economically backward sections only for the manifesto or here in the house as well".

Addressing the house, Jaitley said the Supreme Court's 50 per cent limit only applies to the caste-based reservation. "Just as equals cannot be treated unequally, unequals cannot be treated equally... Reservation was always envisioned for socially or educationally backward, by caste. Therefore Supreme Court's judgment applies only to the reservation of backward classes," Jaitley said.

The bill is expected to benefit a considerable section of upper castes including Brahmins, Rajputs (Thakurs), Jats, Marathas, Bhumihars, and several trading castes including Kapus and Kammas. The economically deprived among poor among the other religions will also benefit.

Uttar Pradesh leaders Mayawati and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said they would support the bill.

Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee said on Monday: "I will be very happy if the weaker sections get the job. But my question is, in the name of the so-called election, can a government cheat the people or cheat the unemployed youth," she said.

In Bihar, Lalu Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal said they are opposed to the quota bill, as the government did not consult any parties before tabling it. See P5

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