Union minister Arun Jaitley on Friday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s push for poverty-based reservation was “the single greatest” recognition shown by the government for the poor in the general category.
In a Facebook blog post, Jaitley said the amendments to allow reservation for the economically backward among the upper castes do not contravene the basic structure of the Constitution. He also criticised the Congress for showing “only lip sympathy” in its support for the bill in the Parliament.
The Cabinet had approved The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Fourth Amendment) Bill, 2019, on Tuesday. The bill was passed in both Houses of Parliament by Thursday. The bill sought to allow 10% reservation in aided and unaided institutions to the economically backward from upper castes.
“The original Constitution (unamended) in its Preamble mentions equality of opportunity and justice for all whether political, social or economic to be ensured by the State,” Jaitley said. “The principal opposition party showed only lip sympathy for the measure and grudgingly supported it while poking holes in the same.”
The blog post was titled “How the Poor and the Middle Class Benefitted Most from the Modi Government Policies?”
The finance minister said the government’s move to push through the legislation is one of the steps taken to economically empower the poor. “This is the first five-year tenure of a government where India has consistently remained the fastest growing economy in the world,” he said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government will ensure that every poor family has a house by 2022, Jaitley said. Listing out its achievements, he said that the government has increased state funding from Rs 9,000 crore annually before 2014 to Rs 27,000 crore. All villages have been electrified and rural sanitation has improved from 39% to over 98%, he added.
The government has also helped out farmers by doubling the expenditure on interest subvention, completing unfinished irrigation schemes, and providing a crop insurance scheme, he said. Jaitley added that the government was committed to supporting farmers and had fixed the minimum support price for notified crops at 50% higher than cost.
Jaitley said the government has also benefited the middle class by not increasing taxes in the last five years, and by merging indirect taxes into a single Goods and Services Tax. “The GST is the single-most important ‘consumer friendly measure’ in India,” he said, adding that the subsidy for housing for the middle class has also been liberalised. “Taxes of most commodities have been brought down.”