Not a drop of blood shed; no human sacrifices in the form of self-immolation; nor a bus was burnt or public property damaged! Yet a revolution has taken place; a social revolution which has been made possible because of one person’s perseverance and conviction for a just cause and above all, unswerving faith in the democratic process.
Tamilnadu Chief Minister Ms. Jayalalitha, the architect of this revolution, has every reason to be elated. The smooth passage of the 85th Constitutional Amendment Bill in Parliament seeking to place the Tamilnadu Reservation Act in the 9th Schedule of the Constitution is the culmination of what has been virtually a lone crusade for social justice by the Chief Minister. From the time of the Supreme Court verdict restricting reservation to 50 per cent to the present situation where the TN Bill has been put beyond judicial review, it has not been a very easy ride.
Besides an intricate web of legalities and constitutional questions, the reservation issue was by nature a very explosive one as it involved protection of rights enjoyed for several years, the denial of which would have led to violent social upheavals. Only the careful planning and deft handling by the Chief Minister saved the situation, from going out of control on several occasions. She was on the right track from the beginning making all her moves with precision and perfection and never once losing sight of her main objective of securing the promised quota for the BCs.
Whether it was sending the TN Bill for Presidential assent or initiating measures for the Constitutional amendment, all her efforts yielded immediate results which only reflects her deep understanding of the issue and consideration of the emotions involved. Though the Tamilnadu Opposition leaders especially Mr K. Ramamurthy sought to deliberately project her caution as pusillanimity, Ms Jayalalitha eventually has succeeded in having the last laugh, defying the political astrologers and their motivated predictions. Perhaps all the hurdles and setbacks have only ended up making the fruit of her labour taste sweeter.
PVN in Nehru’s path
Prime Minister Mr Narasimha Rao has secured himself a lasting place in the hearts of the people of Tamilnadu. By ensuring the comfortable passage of the amendment in both the Houses of Parliament he has rendered yeomen service to the cause of upliftment of the underprivileged. Mr Narasimha Rao has proved to be a worthy successor of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who was instrumental in bringing about the first Constitutional Amendment in 1951 for similar purposes. He deserves all appreciation for looking beyond petty political considerations treating the issue purely on merits.
The amendment has gone through on a note of total unanimity despite the ruling Congress government having only a wafer thin majority. The Prime Minister has shown enormous courage in bringing the Bill in the current session itself and taking advantage of the national consensus that has emerged on the issue. A precedent has been set for other States to come forward with the ‘Tamilnadu model’ legislation envisaging more than 50 per cent reservation.
Credit should also go to the AIADMK Members of Parliament led by Mr G. Swaminathan in the Rajya Sabha and Mr P.G. Narayanan in Lok Sabha who left no stone unturned to carry out their leader’s bidding. They were literally on their toes all the time, sorting differences and ironing out minor technical irritants that kept cropping up.
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