OBC leaders in NCP push for quota in Parliament | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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OBC leaders in NCP push for quota in Parliament

Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal called for Other Backward Class (OBC) reservation within the 33 per cent reservation for women quota in all legislatures as well as an overall quota in the Parliament on Saturday, reports Ketaki Ghoge.

mumbai Updated: Mar 14, 2010 01:01 IST
Ketaki Ghoge

Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal called for Other Backward Class (OBC) reservation within the 33 per cent reservation for women quota in all legislatures as well as an overall quota in the Parliament on Saturday.

Bhujbal was speaking at the national conclave of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) at Karla, near Lonavla.

“There should be reservation for OBC in not just the women’s quota but also in the 542 seats in the Parliament on the lines of reservation in local self governments,” said Bhujbal, at a meeting of senior leaders.

Bhujbal, the party’s sole senior OBC leader has been trying to expand his base to make space for himself in national politics for the last few years. NCP legislator Jitendra Awhad also strongly backed Bhujbal’s demand terming the women’s bill as a strategy to keep out OBCs, who form 54 per cent of the nation’s population.

“There are differences within the party over the Women’s Reservation Bill and we expressed them openly,” said Awhad, another OBC leader.

Senior party leaders say these differences are unlikely to change the party stance over the Women Reservation Bill, soon to be introduced in the Lok Sabha.

But, these differences are likely to create tension within the minority OBC and majority Maratha factions in the party.

On Friday, Rural Development Minister Jayant Patil snickered over opposition on the Women’s bill by few political parties such as the Bahujan Samaj Party and the RJD. He then said there is no dilemma at the state level.

Party spokesperson Nawab Malik said, “There can be differences of opinion within a party. It does not mean there is a rift in the party.”

The NCP chief Sharad Pawar said the party should focus on a more cosmopolitan face in urban areas and get more youngsters in its fold. The party has been trying to break its image of a Maratha-dominated rural party. It has made inroads in urban local bodies like Navi Mumbai, Mira Bhayander, Dombivili and Pune but it failed to do well in the elections last year.

“We have to keep a cosmopolitan outlook if we are looking at expanding our base in the state and the nation,” admitted Malik.

The party in the recent past appointed non-Maharashtrians for the post of mayor to the Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad municipal corporations. The two-day national conclave of the party held over the weekend will focus on ‘NCP: Today and Tomorrow’ and work out strategies to expand the party base.