Arun Jaitley said the 50 per cent bar set by the Supreme Court was meant for caste-based quota.
Union minister Arun Jaitley today made a strong pitch for the bill providing 10 per cent quota in jobs and reservation for economically weaker sections among the general category, saying almost every party had supported it at some point. As for the Congress, the party had it in its manifesto, and the bill is a "test" of its commitment, he said.
The Congress has expressed support for the issue, but maintained the bill should be scrutinized by a joint parliamentary committee. Party leaders have also questioned its timing, calling it a "jumla", meaning political gimmick, ahead of elections.
Mr Jaitley reminded the Congress that quota for the economically backward people of general category was part of its manifesto and hence, its "jumla". Quoting from the Congress manifesto, he asked the party to "walk the talk" by supporting the bill.
"The opposition now faces the test whether they support advancement of economically backward sections only for the manifesto or here in the house as well," he said. Taking a jibe at opposition parties, he added that if they were supporting the issue, they should be wholehearted.
The idea of 10 per cent quota for the poor in the general category had first surfaced in a proposal when the Congress-led UPA government was in power. But given the possibility of a judicial scrutiny — since it would push the total amount quota beyond the Supreme Court's 50 per cent cap — the party had put it in the backburner.
Pitched as a constitutional amendment bill, the Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill 2019 is expected to be a gamechanger for the BJP, which is seen to have faced the brunt of the upper caste anger in the recent assembly elections in three heartland states.
Mr Jaitley said the 50 per cent bar was meant for caste-based quota, not one based on finances and the Constitution amendment bill will not fall foul of the Supreme Court.