The poor, the weak and the backward sections of the society are at the centre of each and every scheme and programme of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government.
Ensuring happiness and prosperity for every needy person is the commitment of the Modi government. Constitutional status to the OBC Commission is an effective and strong mission towards fulfilling this commitment.
The move to provide constitutional status to the rights of the backward classes will also ensure that a large section of the Muslim community becomes a part of the “journey of social justice”.
The Constitutional Amendment Bill, to provide constitutional status to the OBC Commission, will ensure that various sections of the Muslim community – such as Kahar, Kewat-Mallah, Kumhar, Kunjda, Gujjar, Gaddi-Ghosi, Qureshi, Jogi, Mali, Teli, Darji, Nat, Fakir, Banjara, Badhyi, Bhatiyara, Chudidar, Momin-Julaha, Muslim Kayasth, Mansuri, Dhuniya, Rangrej, Lohar, Halwayi, Hajjam, Dhobi, Bhishti, Mochi, Raj-Mistri, etc – will become constitutionally eligible to avail the benefits of various welfare programmes and schemes.
It is after 70 years of Independence that a government has taken this historic, visionary decision, aimed at fulfilling the interests of the backward classes. This is a fulfilment of the long-pending demand of providing social justice to the backward classes of the society by the BJP-led central government. This historic decision will ensure justice for all sections of the society.
Welfare of Backward Classes
During the recently concluded budget session, the Lok Sabha passed the Bill to grant constitutional status to the OBC Commission, but it was stalled in the Rajya Sabha by the Congress, SP, BSP, Trinamool Congress, Left, JD(U) and few other opposition parties. They have blocked a major legislation aimed at protecting the rights of the backward classes.
Despite being in power for so long, the Congress did not take any concrete step towards the welfare of the backward classes. Despite the suggestions of the Kaka Kalelkar Commission (1950) and the Mandal Commission (1979), the respective Congress governments did not take any action in this direction.
With constitutional status, the National Commission for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes will become as powerful as the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and National Commission for Schedule Tribes. Till date, the NCBC was simply a legal body, whose job is to advise the government regarding the inclusion or removal of caste/community lists.
But from now on, this commission can effectively work towards the welfare and upliftment of people belonging to the socially and educationally backward classes.
This commission will also discharge other functions related to the protection, welfare, and development of the backward classes and empower them by utilising the inherent powers of Articles 16(4) and 15(4) under the Constitution.
It is known that the OBC Parliamentary Committee made a recommendation in this regard. MPs from all parties had personally requested Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to amend the Constitution in this regard.
Considering these suggestions, the BJP-led NDA government took strong steps and was successful in arriving at a consensus on the issue in the Lok Sabha. The Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on 10 April 2017.
But it is unfortunate that the move to empower the backward classes has been opposed by the Congress, SP, BSP and other political parties in the Rajya Sabha. On 11 April, the 123rd Constitution Amendment Bill was sent to a Select Committee of the Upper House. The behaviour of the Congress, SP, BSP and other opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha was unfortunate, and has exposed their mindset towards the backward classes.
Our government is committed to passing the Bill, which seeks to safeguard the interests of the backward classes. The BJP’s commitment can be gauged from the fact that our party passed a separate resolution in this regard between 15-16 April, at the National Executive Meet in Odisha.
The BJP will hold about 100 conferences across the country to make the backward classes aware of their rights. This will help Muslims and other minorities belonging to the backward class understand their constitutional rights and various welfare schemes initiated by the Modi government.
A large number of backwards among the Muslims are deprived of the entitled benefits. We want to inform and empower them about their rights. A large section of the Muslims fall within the OBC category but only a few castes have benefitted so far.
(The writer is Union Minister of State, Minority Affairs (Independent Charge) and Parliamentary Affairs. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)