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MVA leaders accuse BJP of double standards, Opposition hits back

The BJP, meanwhile, accused the MVA government of failure to conform to the process and depriving OBCs of reservation in local bodies.

Written by Vishwas Waghmode | Mumbai |
Updated: December 7, 2021 7:31:21 am
Maharashtra council polls, maharashtra bjp, maha vikas aghadi, maharashtra council polls result, maharashtra bjp looses Maharashtra council polls, indian express newsSupporters of Maha Vikas Aghadi (Photo by Ashish Kale)

The Supreme Court’s decision to stay the 27 per cent political reservation in local bodies in the state has come as a setback to the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, which had promulgated an ordinance to provide up to 27 per cent reservation to the OBC within the 50 per cent reservation ceiling. Reacting to the apex court order, MVA leaders attacked the BJP over its “double standards” on the issue and alleged that there seems to be a political conspiracy to thwart the OBC reservation.

The BJP, meanwhile, accused the MVA government of failure to conform to the process and depriving OBCs of reservation in local bodies.

The SC, while staying the ordinance, observed that the 27% OBC quota could not have been implemented without setting up a commission and without collecting data regarding the inadequacy of representation in local bodies.

Terming the decision unfortunate, NCP minister Chhagan Bhujbal said the government is making all efforts to ensure that OBC quota in local bodies is restored. “But some people from Dhule district who are office-bearers of the BJP are frequently going to court against OBC reservation. We suspect that there seems to be a political conspiracy to thwart the OBC reservation,” Bhujbal told mediapersons.

Bhujbal also said that the opposition, which is speaking against the government, is causing damage to the OBC community. “We will also discuss in the state cabinet,” he added.

In September, months after the Supreme Court read down the OBC reservation in local bodies, the Maharashtra cabinet gave approval to promulgate an ordinance to provide reservation to OBCs, apart from the Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) reservation, within the ceiling of 50 per cent reservation in local bodies.

Speaking on the possible implications of the SC stay for the upcoming local body polls, Bhujbal said, “After reading the court’s verdict, it is clear that the elections, which were supposed to take place, will be held. But it seems that the elections cannot be held in the places where 27% reservation is available. So there will be a difficult situation after the polls.”

The State Election Commission has announced elections for 105 Nagar Panchayats in 32 districts and two Zilla Parishads, and voting will take place on December 21.

Another NCP minister Nawab Malik said the party’s stand is that the elections should not be held without the OBC reservation.

State Congress president Nana Patole accused the BJP of double standards on the issue. “The Union government’s stands on OBC reservation shows its double standards. The apex court had sought empirical data from the Centre but it refused to provide it. When I was the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, I passed a resolution demanding a caste-wise census, which was unanimously approved by the Assembly. But the Centre does not conduct a caste-wise census and does not provide empirical data of OBCs,” said Patole.

The SC stay on OBC reservation is very unfortunate, Opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis said, and alleged that the MVA government’s failure to conform to the process deprived OBCs of reservation in local bodies.

The BJP leader and former CM said, “During the all-party meeting, I had mentioned that the government should immediately initiate the process of setting up a commission and collect empirical data. However, instead of taking concrete measures, the MVA government issued an ordinance. It was a mistake as an ordinance was bound to be challenged. In the absence of process and legal validity, the OBC quota was stayed following a PIL.”

He added, “Even now time is not lost. If the government decides, it can complete the empirical data. During our tenure we had undertaken a similar exercise for Maratha reservation.”

State BJP president Chandrakant Patil said the party would not allow any local bodies polls without OBC reservation.

He said, “The stay on OBC reservation is a comment on the MVA government’s administrative and governance failure. The government was not serious in pursuing the issue. The BJP demands immediate restoration of OBC reservation. Otherwise the BJP will not allow local bodies polls to take place without OBC reservation.”

Sources in the government said that either the elections will be held on time by political parties promising to field OBC candidates in proportion to their reservation, or the elections could be deferred citing the pandemic.

OBC reservation will be a key issue in the elections to the 15 municipal corporations and 25 zilla parishads, which is considered a “mini Assembly” in political parlance, and are likely to be held early next year.

Hari Narke, a former member of the Maharashtra backward classes commission, said that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray should personally pay attention to resolve the issue at the earliest.

(With inputs from Shubhangi Khapre)

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