Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad on Wednesday called for a nationwide strike on February 23 to protest against the Supreme Court’s ruling that there is no fundamental right to reservations in promotions in government jobs, The Indian Express reported on Thursday. Azad also urged MPs and MLAs belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to urge the Centre to bring an ordinance to nullify the verdict.
Azad announced a protest march from march from Mandi House to Parliament in New Delhi on February 16, to press for reservations in the private sector and the judiciary, and the immediate repeal of the Citizenship Amendment Act, the proposed National Register of Citizens and the National Population Register.
“I want to appeal to all the friends of Bahujan Samaj that you have seen the mentality of the government,” Azad said at a press conference in Delhi. “Now, we are going to organise a march on February 16 from Mandi House to the Parliament house. We have called for a Bharat Bandh on February 23 because the Constitution is being attacked.”
However, the Bhim Army chief said that the protest should be peaceful. “Large scale peaceful protests across the country are being launched by the Samvidhan Suraksha Samiti and the Bhim Army along with hundreds of other organisations beginning with a call for Bharat Bandh on February 23, 2020,” he said. Azad is the convenor of the Samvidhan Suraksha Samiti.
The Supreme Court had said in its ruling on February 7 that states cannot be forced to provide caste-based reservations as there is no fundamental right to quotas. The Supreme Court delivered the verdict after hearing pleas on reservations for members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes communities in promotions to assistant engineer (civil) posts in the Public Works Department of the Uttarakhand government.
Following an uproar from the Opposition during the Budget session of Parliament, the Centre said that it was not a party to the case in the Supreme Court. Union Minister of Social Justice Thawar Chand Gehlot said that the top court’s order was associated with a 2012 decision of the previous Congress regime in Uttarakhand. The Congress protested against this claim.
On February 10, former Congress President Rahul Gandhi claimed that it was in the “DNA” of the Bharatiya Janata Party and its ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, to try to get of reservations. He said that the Congress will prevent any such attempt.