The Other Backward Classes (OBC) reservation has turned into a raging political issue in the state of Maharashtra. The opposition, BJP, has called for state-wide protests demanding the restoration of the 27% political reservation for the community that was quashed by the top court last month.
The OBC community in Maharashtra is on the brink of losing their political reservations in local bodies across the state after the Supreme Court last month rejected the state government’s review petition concerning reservation to the OBCs. It ruled that the reservation in favour of the OBC in local bodies should not result in exceeding the 50% cap in reservation quota determined by it.
The court had also directed the state to set up a dedicated commission for accumulating empirical data, on basis of which the reservation quota of the community could be fixed. This effectively means that no seat will be reserved for the OBC community in the forthcoming local bodies comprising municipal corporations, municipal councils, zilla parishads, panchayat samiti and gram panchayats, at least for this year or until the state government completes the entire process.
The Maharashtra BJP has blamed the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government responsible for the current predicament of the OBC community. State BJP chief Chandrakant Patil said, “The OBC community lost the reservation owing to the negligence of the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA (Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi) government. BJP has decided to protest against this government. Around 100,000 workers will hold the ‘jail bharo’ andolan in the state on June 26.”
Besides Patil, BJP national secretary Pankaja Munde also opened front against the MVA government. Munde said the party would be holding ‘chakka jam’ at around 1,000 places on Saturday. She said the Maha Vikas Aghadi government was misleading the people of Maharashtra and wrongfully blaming the Centre for the Supreme Court’s verdict.
Congress launches agitation against the BJP
In opposition to the BJP’s protest, the state’s Congress unit has declared that it will be carrying out agitation against the BJP-led Central government, holding it responsible for the quashing of the quota for the community in the Supreme Court. The party said that the Centre is not providing the census data, which led to the situation.
State Congress president Nana Patole on Friday said, “The State government had sought empirical data on OBCs from the Central government, which was to be presented in the Supreme Court. The Centre did not give the data. The whole mess is a result of the Centre’s policy and Congress will protest against the Central government on June 26.”
Supreme Court quashes OBC reservations in local bodies in Maharashtra
Earlier last month, the Supreme Court ordered the cancellation of additional OBC reservations in local bodies. The apex court also rejected the reconsideration petition filed by the Thackeray government in Maharashtra. This decision of the Supreme Court has ended the additional political reservation for OBCs in Gram Panchayats, Zilla Parishads and local bodies.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had quashed Section 12 of the Maharashtra Government’s Zilla Parishad Act. The apex court had also clarified that even if certain categories are reserved based on the population, the reservation cannot exceed above 50 per cent. The Supreme Court had directed OBCs to hold Zilla Parishad elections as per the legal reservation as they cannot be given reservation above 27 per cent. Considering the anger of the OBC community, the decision was appealed by the Thackeray government. However, the apex court rejected the Thackeray government’s appeal and upheld its decision.