Updated: June 27, 2021 8:17:13 am
EVEN as the BJP held a statewide agitation on Saturday seeking reservation for other backward classes in political bodies, senior NCP leader and state minister Chhagan Bhujbal caused a stir when he urged former chief minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis to lead the OBC community.
BJP leaders, led by Fadnavis, have been protesting the conversion of OBC seats to general category in the local bodies’ elections.
“It does not matter which party a leader belongs to. We welcome all those who will ensure justice for the OBC community. Devendra Fadnavis can lead the OBC community. He should take full credit for getting reservation for the community… but he should protect our reservation,” Bhujbal said at a two-day ‘chintan shibir’ of OBC leaders from different parties being held at Lonavala in Pune district. Bhujbal said he had also made the offer to Fadnavis over the phone.
Congress minister Vijay Wadettiwar, Congress leader Manikrao Thakeray and former minister Annasaheb Dange, among other OBC leaders, were present on the occasion.
Bhujbal said, “In 2016, the empirical data collected throughout the country was handed over to the central government. The Modi government was in power then. In 2019, Fadnavis had himself sought the empirical data from the NITI Aayog. Even Pankaja Munde had sought the data, but it was denied.”
Bhujbal said though the MVA government has been in power for one-and-a-half years, most of its time has been devoted to tackling the Covid-19 pandemic. “In this situation, it is not possible to collect data by going door-to-door. Even the central government census for 2021 is yet to take off. Those who have the data of OBC community are not ready to share it. Since the BJP is in power at the Centre, I have made the offer to Devendra Fadnavis to lead the OBC community. He should seek the data from the central government. He can claim the credit for OBC reservation but ensure that the reservation of OBC community is protected,” he said.
Stating that he supports reservation for the Maratha community also, Bhujbal said, “However, it should be given without affecting the OBC reservation.”
Meanwhile, in Pimpri, BJP national secretary Pankaja Munde and the party’s Pimpri-Chinchwad unit president Mahesh Landge were taken into custody by the police after they, along with other party leaders, held a ‘chakka jam’ agitation on the Pune-Mumbai highway on Saturday. They were released later.
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