About 18 lakh employees and officers of the Uttar Pradesh government on Thursday went on a flash strike boycotting work in protest against attempts at "forcible passage" of the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes quota bill in Rajya Sabha, saying the stir will continue.
President of the Sarvjan Hitai Sanrakshan Samiti, Shailendra Dubey, spearheading the agitation, said in Lucknow that about 18-lakh-strong workforce of the state government, barring essential services like hospitals, power and transport, started boycotting work on Thursday evening and it would continue indefinitely.
Dubey told reporters that a demonstration against the move would be held in front of the Assembly as also at the district headquarters on Friday.
Earlier, a rally of government employees was taken out in Lucknow to register opposition to the move and a 'virodh sabha' (protest assembly) was later held at the General Post Office.
Dubey said that the employees affiliated to various worker unions, teachers and other departments were taking part in the protest.
Opposing reservation for SC/STs in promotion in government jobs, Dubey said it was an attempt to disturb the basic structure of the Constitution and encroach upon the right to equality.
"There have been four attempts in the past and this would be the fifth one to amend the Constitution, and the three crore employees of the country would not tolerate it," he said.
Samajwadi Party members on Thursday staged a walkout from Rajya Sabha following a directive from the chair to two of its members to leave the House for causing disruption over the quota bill.
However, the SP, which is in power in UP, made it clear that it will continue to support United Progressive Alliance government notwithstanding strong action taken against its members in Rajya Sabha when they were protesting against consideration of the bill.
"The bill is an unconstitutional one. But, the government is adamant to pass the bill. It is not in interest of the people. Different parties decided to pass the bill. We had been protesting from the beginning and our members were withdrawn one by one," party leader Ram Gopal Yadav told reporters outside Parliament House.