Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday said that the Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill, which provides 10 per cent quota to poor in the general category in government jobs and academic institutions, does not "contravene the basic structure of the Constitution." "It was the single greatest recognition for the poor in the general category," he said.
"Caste in India was considered as a key determinant of either social or historical oppression as in the case of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes or a determinant of social and educational backwardness as in the case of the Other Backward Classes," Jaitley, also a noted lawyer, said in a Facebook blog.
The Finance Minister further stated that "poverty is a secular" criterion and that "it cuts across communities and religions."
"Poverty as criteria for a carve-out does not in any way contravene the basic structure of the Constitution. 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. The Preamble expresses the intent of the Constitution framers," Jaitley said.
"The Prime Minister's decision to force an agenda for poverty-based reservation is the single greatest recognition/concern for poor across the general categories and the need to eliminate poverty," he added.
Aiming a potshot at the Congress, Jaitley said that the "principal opposition party" only paid "lip sympathy" for the bill and "grudgingly supported it while poking holes in the same."
He further highlighted the "pro-poor" economic measures implemented under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's term like the rural housing and electrification drives, Ayushman Bharat scheme.
"The Government has expressed its intention to help the farmer by fixing the Minimum Support Price for the notified crops at 50 per cent higher than the cost. The farmers, of course, need greater support and the government is committed to the same," Jaitley said.
Terming the GST as the "single most important consumer-friendly measure," Jaitley said that taxes on most commodities have gone down and that not a single tax has been increased in the last five years.
"This is the first time that during the five-year tenure of a government, Rs 2 lakh crore annual tax rebate for both direct and indirect taxes is given to the middle-class taxpayer without a single tax being increased. The subsidy for housing for the middle class has been liberalised. Inflation during the five-year tenure has been kept between 3-4 per cent as against 10.4 per cent during UPA-II," Jaitley added in his post.
"There is a method for economically empowering the poor. Their purchasing power has improved. This helps trade and businesses which impacts positively on the economy. This is the first five-year tenure of a government where India has consistently remained the fastest growing economy in the world. This indeed helps every Indian-the poor, the neo-middle class, the middle class and, of course, the large business community," he wrote in the conclusion.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)