In the wake of a Supreme Court order directing Maharashtra’s State Election Commission to notify a schedule for local body polls within two weeks, the Opposition BJP has sought to open a new battlefront over Other Backward Classes reservation in the elections.
Speaking at an OBC conclave of the BJP in Dadar, Mumbai, Opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis announced on Saturday that his party would give 27 per cent of the tickets to OBC candidates in local body polls.
The former chief minister, who accused the Maha Vikas Aghadi government of betraying the backward communities, gave a clarion call for BJP workers to launch an indefinite agitation across the state for an OBC quota in local bodies.
“The MVA government’s failure to complete the ‘triple test’ has denied OBCs their right to reservation. There is no question of compromising on 27 per cent OBC reservation in local bodies. Until OBC reservation is restored, the BJP will continue its agitation across the state,” he said.
Elections to municipal corporations and zilla parishads are likely to be held in September-October.
Fadnavis urged BJP workers to start touring their districts, constituencies and wards to “expose the MVA government’s failure” to restore the OBC reservation. “The MVA’s reluctance to complete the ‘triple test’ was evident from the beginning. It took them more than two years to set up the Maharashtra State Backward Classes Commission. Once the commission was constituted, the government refused to allocate adequate funds necessary for its operation. This led to an inordinate delay in starting the work. The third mistake was that the MVA did not initiate the process of data collection as mandated. The data was required to ascertain the OBC quota in proportion to the population.”
Fadnavis was referring to the three conditions—setting up a commission for collecting empirical data on the OBC population, specifying the proportion of reservation and ensuring that the reserved seats do not exceed 50 per cent of the total —that the apex court laid down in a March 4, 2021, order. Of these, the government has fulfilled two condtitions—appointing the commission and getting legislation passed to reserve 27 per cent of the seats to the OBCs in local bodies.
ओबीसी आरक्षण पुनर्स्थापित होईस्तोवर भाजपाचा संघर्ष सुरूच राहील आणि जोवर ते पुन्हा बहाल होत नाही, तोवर भाजपा प्रत्येक निवडणुकीत ओबीसींना 27 % प्रतिनिधीत्त्व देईल.
ओबीसींचा घात करणार्या महाविकास आघाडी सरकारविरुद्ध संघर्षासाठी सज्ज राहण्याचे आवाहन केले.#OBC pic.twitter.com/InuLEOfe6P
— Devendra Fadnavis (@Dev_Fadnavis) May 7, 2022
Fadnavis alleged that at all-party meetings MVA would talk in favour of starting the data collection, but nothing happened afterwards. As a result, the OBC reservation issue has remained unresolved two and a half years since Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray assumed office, he said.
The BJP leader also accused the state government of shirking its responsibilities and blaming the central government for everything. In the absence of reservation in local bodies, OBCs will be adversely affected, he said.