Mumbai: Days after the Supreme Court ordered the state election commission to hold local elections without the 27% quota for other backward classes (OBC), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) announced on Saturday that he would give 27% of the tickets to candidates from the OBC community if the state government was unable to restore the reservation for the community before the election.
Maharashtra opposition party decided at its OBC morcha (front) cell meeting where opposition leader and former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis called on BJP workers to ‘expose’ Maharashtra government Vikas Aghadi (MVA) led by Uddhav Thackeray taking the issue to every village and district in the coming months.
This year, the state is expected to see elections in 23 municipalities including Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Navi Mumbai, Kolhapur; 27 district councils, 298 panchayat samitis, 320 nagar panchayats and nagar councils.
OBCs received 27% in local bodies before being struck down by the top court for breaching the 50% reservation cap on March 4 last year.
Fadnavis criticized the MVA government for failing to collect the empirical data necessary to reinstate reservation for the OBC community, as ordered by the Supreme Court.
“The BJP is going to be very aggressive until the OBC reservation is reinstated. It is because of the incompetence of this government that the empirical investigation has not been carried out for two and a half years. We have decided to give 27% of election tickets to OBC candidates, in case the elections are held without OBC quota, in local bodies,” Fadnavis said.
This is not the first time that a political party has taken such a position. Last year, in partial polls of several zilla parishads and gram panchayats, all major political parties, including the BJP, declared 27% of candidacies to the OBC community to ensure that they were not deprived of the political representation in local bodies.
On October 5, elections in 85 district council seats and 144 panchayat samitis seats were held after SC suspended the OBC quota due to lack of empirical data and canceled the elections of elected representatives of the above seats reserved for OBCs.
On January 18 this year, 336 seats from nagar panchayats, 209 seats from gram panchayats, 23 from zilla parishads and one seat from Sangli-Miraj-Kupwada municipality went to the polls. These were the seats that were previously reserved under the OBC quota but were converted to the open category before the polls were held, as ordered by the SC.
Fadnavis also accused the MVA government of plotting against the OBC reserve. “The SC order against violation of 50% reservation quota first came in 2010 but then Congress led governments failed to do anything in Maharashtra and nationally,” said the Leader of the Opposition, addressing party workers.
Responding to the BJP’s allegation, the state’s Congress unit accused the BJP and Fadnavis of creating obstacles in Maharashtra’s OBC reserve. “BJP and Devendra Fadnavis bear sole responsibility for the current situation on the OBC reserve in the state. BJP’s DNA is anti-OBC and their sudden love and concern for the OBC community is just sham,” said Nana Patole, Chairperson of Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC).
Patole said the agenda of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the BJP to end reservations in the country is no secret.
“It was Devendra Fadnaivs who started creating obstacles against the political reserve of the OBC community when he was chief minister. Fadnavis postponed the Nagpur ZP polls giving a technical reason, the case went to court and it all started. He didn’t even form a commission (to collect empirical data) even after the high court directives,” he claimed.
He added that the PM Modi government at the Center refused to provide OBC data which would have been useful to complete the empirical investigation only to corner the MVA government.