FEARING A backlash from Other Backward Class (OBC) communities amid the Supreme Court staying local body polls on seats reserved for OBCs, the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government has decided to file an affidavit in the apex court, requesting it to either allow polling on all seats in local bodies on December 21 or postpone the elections completely.
The SC on Monday had stayed polls on the seats where there is reservation up to 27 per cent for the OBCs but said that election process for the other seats would continue.
The SC bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar had said, “The State Election Commission shall desist from proceeding with the election programme already notified in respect of reserved seats for ‘OBC category only’, in the concerned local bodies. The election programme in respect of all the local bodies across the state in respect of reserved seats for category Other Backward Class, shall remain stayed until further orders.”
The issue was discussed in the state Cabinet meeting held on Wednesday. It was decided that the government should file an affidavit before the SC requesting that the polls should not be held in a piecemeal manner.
“On Wednesday, the entire Cabinet was of the view that elections cannot be held in a piecemeal manner. Either we can have elections for all seats or not have elections at all,” Food and Civil Supplies Minister Chaggan Bhujbal told The Indian Express.
Bhujbal, who left for Delhi in the evening, added that the state government has decided to appoint senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi to represent the government’s side in the SC. “We will request the SC to allow us to hold elections across all seats. We will submit empirical data in six to eight months,” he added.
In the light of the SC order, the Maharashtra State Election Commission had on Tuesday deferred local body polls for OBC category. While elections on 413 seats reserved for OBCs were deferred, polls on the remaining 1,710 seats are expected to take place as per schedule on December 21.
State Election Commissioner U P S Madan told The Indian Express, “As per SC orders, we are continuing with elections for General and SC/ST categories and have only stayed election for OBC category.’’ He added that they were waiting for further orders from the court.
MVA ministers are, however, hopeful that the SC will grant them relief. “We are going to present our case and will be in a position to provide the empirical data very shortly,” a Congress minister said.
In its order on Monday, the SC had said that Maharashtra had failed to conduct an empirical inquiry into the nature and implications of backwardness qua local bodies or to specify the proportion of reservation required to ensure that the total quota does not exceed the 50 per cent ceiling.
The Maharashtra government has so far not been able to provide contemporaneous empirical date to prove the nature and implications of backwardness of the OBCs, nine months after it set up a panel to collect this data.