BJP faces crucial test in RS today on Prez Rule, Reservation bill

Though short of majority, party leaders confident
Proclamation only after Parl nod

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, June 30: The BJP-led NDA will face crucial test in the Rajya Sabha tomorrow when the House will take up statutory resolution for extension of President’s rule by another six months and granting reservation to people living on the International Border in Jammu and Kashmir as the NDA is well short of majority in 245-member House but was banking on the support of friendly parties to get the two items through.
In view of importance of the statutory resolution, the BJP has issued a three-line whip to all its Rajya Sabha members to remain present in the House during discussion and voting on statutory resolution and bill granting reservation to the people living along the International Border in Jammu and Kashmir.
Like Lok Sabha, Union Home Minister Amit Shah will introduce the statutory resolution on extension of President’s rule in J&K and the reservation bill in Rajya Sabha, which will be followed by a debate, Shah’s reply and voting on the two items.
The NDA has 101 members in 245-member House of Elders, the BJP being the largest party with 74 seats. Its allies include AIADMK (13), Janata Dal-U (6), Shiv Sena and Shiromani Akal Dal (3 each), RPIA and Bodoland People’s Front (1 each). The UPA has 63 and Others 70. There are 11 vacancies.
Party sources said the NDA especially the BJP leaders were in touch with some of parties, who were not affiliated either with NDA or UPA, to support the statutory resolution and the reservation bill. Some of the members could abstain to ensure passage of the two items on Jammu and Kashmir.
From Jammu and Kashmir’s four Rajya Sabha seats, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has two while BJP and Congress have one each. The PDP members included Fayaz Ahmad Mir and Nazir Ahmad Laway while Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha and former State Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad is the Congress member of Rajya Sabha from his home State. Shamsher Singh Manhas is the BJP member in the House of Elders from J&K.
Senior BJP leaders were, however, quite confident that statutory resolution as well as reservation bill will be through in the Rajya Sabha. They said the Opposition was unlikely to make any attempt to block extension of President’s rule in the State by another six months in view of situation prevailing in Kashmir especially after Amit Shah’s statement that Assembly elections will be held in the State when the Election Commission announces dates.
After the statutory resolution on extension of President’s rule in Jammu and Kashmir is cleared by the Rajya Sabha, President Ram Nath Kovind will issue a proclamation extending President’s rule in the State by another six months beyond July 3.
Lok Sabha had approved extension of President’s rule in J&K on June 28 after four hours long debate followed by the Home Minister’s reply. The Congress as well as National Conference had in the Lok Sabha batted for conduct of Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir. They were of the view that Assembly elections should have been held along with Lok Sabha polls in the State.
While National Conference has no member in the Rajya Sabha, the Congress, which has 48 members and is second largest party after the BJP, is likely to take stand similar to the one taken in Lok Sabha, in the House of Elders tomorrow.
Governor’s Rule was imposed in Jammu and Kashmir on June 20, 2018 following withdrawal of support to Mehbooba Mufti-led Government by the BJP. The President’s rule came into force in the State on January 3 this year after nod by both Houses of the Parliament. The Legislative Assembly was dissolved on November 21, 2018. The present spell of six months President’s rule will expire on July 3.
Besides the statutory resolution on extension of President’s rule, the Rajya Sabha will also take up tomorrow a bill to extend reservations to the people living on the International Border in the State. The bill to this effect was passed in Lok Sabha on Friday.
The bill proposed bringing about 3.5 lakh people living on the International Border in Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts under the ambit of 3 percent reservation given to the people of Line of Control (LoC) in Government jobs and educational institutions.