NEW DELHI: Accusing the government of snatching the rights of India's "smallest minority community", the Anglo-Indians, the Congress on Tuesday alleged that the government was shedding "crocodile tears" over the minority communities facing discrimination in neighbouring countries.
The Lok Sabha passed a Constitution amendment bill on Tuesday to extend reservation to SCs and STs in the Lower House of Parliament and state assemblies by another 10 years, but did not extend the facility to the Anglo-Indian community.
"While the government shed crocodile tears over the plight of the minorities in the neighbouring countries during the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, they denied the rights of India's smallest minority - the Anglo-Indians - the next day," Congress leader and MP Manish Tewari told reporters here.
The Constitution "envisaged by Babasaheb Ambedkar... had this provision of nominating them to two seats in Lok Sabha and the Assemblies of 13 states. Now, with this amendment, the provision for the community has been finished," he said.
The bill was passed with 352 members voting in favour and none against it.
The reservation for SCs, STs and Anglo-Indians given for the past 70 years in Lok Sabha and state assemblies was due to end on January 25, 2020.
The reservation for Anglo-Indians in the form of "nomination" is set to expire on January 25 next year as the Bill does not extend the facility to the community.
"There is a basic constitutional question on this.
Can the Union government through a Bill take away the right of nominations of the state Assemblies without the approval of the state governments? This is a attack on the federal structure of the country," said Tewari.
He also said that while the home minister was giving a detailed speech in Parliament on the rights of the minorities in neighbouring countries, he didn't "blink" before taking away the rights of a minority community in India.
"They are the smallest minority and have very limited rights and you want to snatch away these rights as well. This bill is as unconstitutional as the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and is against the basic tenets of the Constitution. So, whenever this Bill comes to the House, the Congress party will oppose it," Tewari said.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, while presenting the bill, however, said that the doors are not shut and the matter to grant Anglo-Indians nomination would be considered.