BJD SC, ST MLAs in a fix over voting on reservation bill

Bhubaneswar: Opposition Congress put 40 SC and ST MLAs of the ruling BJD in a fix in the state Assembly by suddenly demanding division of vote at the introduction stage of a bill for reservation to SC and ST in government jobs.

The opposition Congress raised objection to the Odisha Reservation of Vacancies in Posts and Services (for SC and ST) Amendment Bill, 2013, by claiming that it lacked provision of carrying forward the reservation of posts in case suitable candidates were not found and reservation of posts in the contractual appointments.

"Though there are strict guidelines for carrying forward posts and making reservation in contractual appointments in government services, the present Bill has no such provision. It has no provision regarding promotion of ST employees," Congress member Chakradhar Paik said.

As Speaker Pradip Kumar Amat went ahead, the opposition all of a sudden demanded division of votes at the introduction stage of the amendment Bill, popularly known as ORV Act.

The opposition, however, lost in the vote division by securing only 23 votes against 77 votes supporting introduction of the Bill, which was later sent to the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) of the Assembly for fixation of time and date for consideration.

Paik claimed that though the Congress lost in the division of votes, the ST & SC MLAs of BJD had been exposed.

"They supported the Bill which did not have a provision to protect the interests of adivasis and dalits," Paik, a bureaucrat-turned-politician, said.

Of the 40 BJD MLAs, 21 belong to SC and the rest to ST.

Senior BJD member Padmanav Behera told the House that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik would be requested to include more provisions to protect the interests of the dalits and tribals.

"We will prefer the Bill to be sent to Select Committee before being tabled in the House for passing," he said.

Of its total 108 MLAs, the ruling BJD have 40 members from the two communities. There are 19 ST and 21 SC MLAs in BJD.

Later, a senior BJD MLA belonging to the SC told newsmen on condition of anonymity: "Today's division of votes over the amendment of the ORV ACT has created problem for us."

ST & SC Development, Minorities and Backward Class Minister Lal Behari Himirika said while certain provisions could not be incorporated due to the opposition of the law department, the government would incorporate certain other provisions while framing rules for the amended act.