I am moving the amendment. Sir, this has been a long journey for 17 years. We have been part of this process and since 2000 we have consistently supported GST.
My amendment says, whatever the GST Council proposes, the Parliament must not be bypassed. We know the GST Council has a strong federal structure but the Parliament must not be bypassed. Sir, we are all for GST, but this is an important point.
Sir, when the GST Council wanted the rate to be half-quoted into the Bill, the Hon. Finance Minister said: “this provision will suffer from the vice of excessive delegation”.
We are 100% for GST. We are 100% for supremacy of Parliament.
Sir, we are moving this amendment and we want a division.
The whole process of reservation for scheduled castes (SC) and including them in the list has a long history. Gandhiji devoted his whole life for the untouchables’ right to enter temples. Our Constitution eliminated untouchability from the country. The main drafting was done by Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar who was a champion of SCs, and then for the first time reservation was included.
- This Bill seeks to amend the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 and the Constitution (Dadra and Nagar Haveli) Scheduled Castes Order, 1962.
- It adds new communities to the list of scheduled castes in Haryana, Karnataka, Odisha, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli. It updates the name Uttaranchal to Uttarakhand in this list.
The socio-economic and caste surveys being conducted by the Ministry of Rural Development and the Ministry of Urban Development must be completed at the earliest so that the Government can easily determine which communities should be included or excluded from the list of scheduled castes. This has also been recommended by the Standing Committee.
The Committee also pointed out that while several new communities have been added to the list of scheduled castes, the percentage of reservation has remained the same. The government must revisit its reservation policy.
In West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has started a new scheme called Sikshashree, aimed at the social upliftment of SCs, STs and OBCs by providing financial assistance to students of classes V-VIII. The West Bengal Government has distributed 9.5 lakh caste certificates in 2013 alone, whereas the previous government had distributed 8.11 lakh caste certificates in 2009 and 2010 combined. In the last three years, the Bengal government has extended the facility of scholarships to almost 84 lakh students belonging to SCs, STs and other backward classes.
Welfare of SCs, STs and other backward classes is an affirmative action taken by the State to remove the persistent or present, and continuing, effects of past discrimination on particular segments of society. I would ask the Government to re-look at the funds allocated for this cause.