Updated: December 22, 2021 3:25:59 pm
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Tuesday said the BJP government in MP, along with the Centre, would move court to ensure that panchayat elections in the state are held with reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBC).
Chouhan made the statement in the state Assembly after Leader of Opposition Kamal Nath urged the CM to explore legal options against the Supreme Court’s December 17 order that stayed polling on all OBC-reserved seats. The ruling follows a similar order by the apex court for the Maharashtra municipal elections.
Speaking in the Assembly, Nath said that if the BJP-led government approaches court against the SC’s decision “instead of playing a blame game”, the Congress would also support it as both the parties are in favour of reserved seats for the OBC community that constitute over 50 per cent of the state’s population.
Chouhan and Nath were arguing over the Supreme Court’s verdict on December 17 in which the apex court stayed the election on seats reserved for OBC candidates and directed the state election commission to re-notify these as general seats.
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The apex court passed the order while hearing a plea challenging the Madhya Pradesh High Court order that accepted an application challenging the validity of the Madhya Pradesh Panchayat Raj and Gram Swaraj (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021 related to reservation and delimitation in MP but refused to stay the elections to the panchayat polls.
The ordinance promulgated on November 21 by the state government had annulled the last rotation on reservation, and decided that the elections would be conducted as per the delimitation and rotation exercise carried out in 2014 by the then BJP government. Reserved seats are rotated among SCs, STs and women every five years, and the last time this happened was in 2019, when the Nath-led Congress government was in power for 15 months.
Various petitions challenging the ordinance were initially filed in MP High Court and the matter subsequently reached the apex court. But the apex court’s ruling on December 17, staying the OBC reservation, ensued a blame game in the state which found an echo in the Vidhan Sabha on Tuesday when 12 Congress MLAs filed an adjournment motion. Members of both the treasury and Opposition benches blamed each other for the stay.
While the BJP MLAs blamed Congress leaders — including Vivek Tankha, who represented one of the petitioners in the SC — for the court’s decision, the Congress accused the BJP of themselves having done little for the cause of OBCs and now blaming the Congress instead of finding a solution.
When it was his turn to speak, Nath accused the BJP government of not sticking to the delimitation and rotation exercise carried out by his government. On the court ordering a stay on reservation when the case in the court was related to the ordinance and the delimitation and rotation exercise, Nath said, “My understanding is that since the judge hearing the application was aware of Maharashtra’s case, this case also went in that direction.”
Accusing Chouhan of not trying to find a solution to the problem, Nath said, “If the court’s order was not acceptable to you, your government did not approach the court seeking an amendment. Instead of finding a solution, you set out to highlight who went to court how many times… We would have supported you (if you had gone to court) and gone with you. If both the parties would have gone to the court together, which court would not have denied us relief?”
Responding to Nath, Chouhan pointed out that the ordinance passed by the BJP government was as per the Constitution, and had it not been so, it would have been stayed by the High Court or Supreme Court.
While Chouhan agreed that not just the Centre but the MP government too would do its best to ensure panchayat elections are held with OBC reservation, Nath thanked him “for paying heed to their demand for the welfare of the OBC community”.
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