The debate on quota bill today witnessed a surprising argument from Tamil Nadu's ruling AIADMK. Had Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered Rs 15 lakh to each Indian as promised, none of this would have been required, said lawmaker M Thambi Durai, referring to a pre-election promise that is regularly raised by the Congress and other opposition parties.
"PM Modi promised Rs 15 lakh in each account. Had he implemented it, there would be no need for this Bill," Mr Thambi Durai said. Raising questions on the process of implementation of the bill, he added that new law will only increase corruption. "People may pay bribe and get a certificate that he/she is poor," he said.
Under the proposed law, 10 per cent quota will be set aside for people from general category who also belong to the economically weaker sections. This will be over and above the 50 per cent quota allowed by the Supreme Court for Scheduled Castes and Tribes and Other Backward Classes. But only people who earn less than Rs. 8 lakh a year and own less than five acres of land, will be eligible for the quota.
Arguing that quota is not required, since there are many schemes for the poor, Mr Thambi Durai said, "Have government schemes for the poor failed? There are enough schemes. This reservation bill which you are bringing will be struck down by the Supreme Court".
The government has said though the fresh quota overshoots the 50 per cent cap on reservation set by the Supreme Court, it will not fall foul of the court. Union Minister Arun Jaitley told parliament today that this is because the cap is on caste-based reservations. The basis of the 10 per cent quota is economy, not caste, he added.
Given the huge section of people the proposed law is expected to benefit, several opposition parties have decided to back it despite grudges. The Congress, which said it backs the issue, has suggested moving the bill to a select committee of parliament.