MPs stall Rajya Sabha yet again over roster row

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The government failed to break the impasse in the Rajya Sabha as protests by the Opposition disrupted proceedings for the fourth day in a row.

Members of the Samajwadi Party (SP), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)continued their protests against the new roster system for reservation in universities which has severely cut down faculty positions for SC/ST and OBC candidates. The Opposition parties raised slogans against the government calling it “anti-Dalit”.

The roster system provides that number of vacancies are considered department- or wing-wise in a college or university and not the total number of posts available for recruitment in any institution. This limits the seats available for recruitment in each department or wing under reserved categories.

Discussions held
To resolve the stalemate, two rounds of discussions were held in Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu’s office. The first round was held after the House was adjourned for 10 minutes at 11.20 a.m. Leaders from the Congress, the SP, the BSP, the RJD, the AIADMK, the CPI and the CPI (M) attended the meeting. The Chairman allowed those who gave notices for raising the roster issue in the House.

Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar failed to give concrete assurance on the issue. The Opposition had demanded that a legislation be introduced to maintain status quo. Replying on the issue, Mr. Javadekar said: “We are fully committed towards reservation. We will ensure it is not affected.”

The Minister said the government would soon file a review petition in the apex court on this issue and expressed confidence that it would get a favourable judgment. This did not satisfy the Opposition members.

In the second half, Chairman Naidu asked members to begin the discussion on the motion of thanks on the President’s address to Parliament, ignoring a demand from SP member Javed Ali Khan who demanded discussion on the reservation issue under Rule 267 of the House while other Opposition members raised slogans.

The Opposition members trooped into the Well and the House was adjourned within three minutes. When the Chairman did not heed to their demand saying the discussion on the motion of thanks would go on, Opposition members belonging to the RJD, SP, BSP, TMC and the Congress trooped into the Well again.

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