Bill on inclusion has Madhesi bias

Despite criticism from the opposition parties and bureaucrats, a Cabinet meeting today decided to table the bill on inclusion before the Parliament, giving top priority to the Madhesi communities in government services. The bill, which increases reservation to 48 per cent from existing 45 per cent, gives top priority to Madhesi castes.

“The government has decided to table the bill before the House at the earliest,” said Minister for Physical Planning and Works Hridayesh Tripathi after today’s Cabinet meeting.

According to the copy of the bill received by the The Himalayan Times, 33 per cent reservation for women will be shared among the women of Madhesi and other backward groups. Inclusive quotas will not be transferred to open competition even if any of the candidates under the reservation fails to pass the exam. In such a condition, the quotas for reservation will increase gradually.

The government had introduced 45 per cent reservation for backward and underprivileged groups four years ago.

Opposition parties and bureaucrats said the bill did not justify the increase of reservation from 45 to 48 per cent or giving priority to Madhesi high castes in government services. “Different castes and women from Madhesi communities have been given top priority by ignoring other socially, economically and regionally backward groups. It is against the spirit of reservation and inclusion,” said a government secretary on condition of anonymity.

The bureaucrat said the prime minister supported the bill to appease the Unified Democratic Madhesi Front to prolong his stay in the government. UDMF ministers had been threatening to pull the plug on the government if the bill on inclusion was not brought as per their demands.

Today’s Cabinet decision is part of a four-point agreement reached between the Unified CPN-Maoist and UDMF on August 28, which paved the way to elect Baburam Bhattarai as prime minister with the support of the UDMF.

One of the four points states the government would bring the bill on inclusion to include the Madhesi communities in the government services.

Bill is is against the spirit of inclusion, as it cuts quotas for women of other regions and backward groups to include the women of Madhes based castes, said a joint secretary. “Although the bill has increased the quotas for Madhesi castes, it has not given priority to Madhesi backward groups. “The bill is intended to provide chance to Madhesi upper castes,” he added.PRAKASH ACHARYA,THT

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