New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday gave his assent to the bill providing 10% reservation to economically weaker upper castes in education and government jobs. The development came days after the quota bill was passed in Rajya Sabha by 165 votes, more than two-thirds majority of the house. Seven members voted against it. The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday with 323 members voting in its favour and only three voting against it.

While replying to nearly eight hour long debate in Rajya Sabha, Social Justice and Emowerment Minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot on Thursday asked Congress how it would have implemented the promise it made in its election manifesto of giving giving reservation to poor of general category but by amending the Constitution. He said reservation to SC, ST and OBCs will not be touched by the amendment and opposition parties should have supported the legislation without any ifs and buts.

The changes in the Constitution being made to provide the reservation will hold scrutiny of the Supreme Court, he hoped. Filling up of jobs reserved for SC/STs and OBCs is an ongoing process, he said, adding the bill was an attempt to benefit poor of general category who have been deprived so far.

While opposition parties questioned the motive behind bringing the legislation just four months before the general elections, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad used cricketing analogy to justify the move saying ‘sixes are hit only in the slog overs’ and said more such “sixers” are in the pipeline.

Congress and other opposition parties also raised doubts over the move actually benefiting the deserving when, they said, government jobs are drying and the economy is witnessing a jobless growth.

Notably, the quota will be over and above the existing 50 per cent reservation to SCs, STs and Other Backward Classes (OBCs).