New Delhi, Dec 10 : The government was faced with some sort of predicament in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday when the House took up for discussion Constitution Amendment Bill that seeks to extend by ten years the reservation given to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Lok Sabha and state legislatures.
While members cutting across party lines welcomed the initiative to grant reservation to these communities in states assemblies and in Lok Sabha, several members wanted to know why the government was against extending the same privileges for the Anglo Indian community. "Do no say, the matter is under consideration....that is too much of a bureaucratic way of saying. Please make it clear whether you will give them or not," said Biju Janata Dal member Bhartruhari Mahtab.
Participating in the discussion on the Bill, he said he extends support to the draft law. So did other members from Congress - Hibi Eden and Trinamool Congress - Saugata Roy among others. NCP member Supriya Sule said, "....you are shutting the door (on Anglo Indians)". Mr Roy even had gone to the extent of stating that the Census report of 2011 should be 'thrown away". Earlier, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said there are only 296 Anglo Indian people across the country according to the 2011 Census.
"I have the report of Registrar General of India..., I am not misleading the House," he said. "How can the government deny the right to the microscopic minority community....," Congress member Hibi Eden said while initiating a debate on the Bill. He said in his own constituency there are around 20,000 people from the community. "What is the basis of the figure of 296 people.....," the Congress member asked.
M Kanimozhi of DMK said there would be at least more than three lakh Anglo Indian population in the country and more than 50,000 would be in Tamil Nadu alone. She also implied that the government decision to deprive the nomination rights to Anglo Indian community smacked of a religious motive.
"....Just because you have majority, that does not mean you have to hurt minorities. Yesterday you brought a bill (Citizenship Amendment Bll) that hurt Muslims, today you have a bill that hurt Christians," she said.
Trinamool member Saugata Roy said there are several lakhs of Anglo Indian population in the country. They live in as many as 22 states, he said. Mr Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government has not brought any proposal as of now to ensure nomination of Anglo Indian to Parliament and state legislatures. Congress floor leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury pointed out that the statement of objective on the Bill states that "....the representation of the Anglo-Indian community in the House of the People and in the Legislative Assemblies of the states by nomination shall cease to have effect on the expiration of a period of seventy years from the commencement of the Constitution".
Congress member Mr Eden said he has already given a breach of privilege motion on the matter against Law Minister but Speaker Om Birla said the matter of privilege should not be discussed while talking about the Bill. But Mr Eden said, "I do support the Bill that will extend reservation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled in Lok Sabha and state assemblies for next ten years". (UNI)