Reservation row: Deception by MVA, says BJP
Mumbai: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) held a march from its Nariman Point office to Mantralaya, the state headquarters, on Wednesday to protest against what party leaders called the deception of the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in providing political reservation to Other Backward Class (OBC) candidates in local body polls, after the Supreme Court struck it down last year.
The OBC cell of the BJP staged a protest outside the party office at Nariman Point near the Mantralaya, the state headquarters, on Wednesday, following which nearly 40 BJP workers, including senior leaders like BJP chief Chandrakant Patil, Pravin Darekar and Sudhir Mungantiwar, were detained. They were later released, an official said.
“The State Election Commission has directed the 14 municipal corporations to hold draws for the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) category candidates and women candidates by May 31. Once it is done without reservation for OBC candidates, it is unlikely to be reversed by the Supreme Court even if empirical data is submitted by the state government in the court. In that case, the OBC communities will be deprived of reservation for next five years. The whole responsibility of it will be on the state government for this loss,” Patil said.
“The Shiv Sena-led MVA government has deceived the OBCs in the state over protecting their political quota in the local body polls. The MVA government first did nothing and ended up losing the political quota case in the Supreme Court,” Patil said, and added that the BJP will hold rallies across the state to push for reservation until it is restored.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar held a meeting with the party’s OBC cell, and demanded that the Centre conduct a nation-wide census to ascertain the population of OBC communities, failing which the party workers would take to the streets.
He said that the BJP had no right to question the MVA government’s intention on OBC reservation as the BJP did nothing while it was in power in Maharashtra between 2014 and 2019 and during its eight years at the Centre. “Were they sleeping for all these years? They (BJP) don’t want to give reservation to the OBC community and are interested only in making allegations (for political gains),” he said.
“[The OBC communities] are sure that only the BJP and Devendra Fadnavis [the leader of opposition] can bring back reservation. They have lost trust in the state government. The state government could not collect the empirical data [despite the] Supreme Court order. The Madhya Pradesh government has successfully complied with the condition of the triple test [criteria]. I am sure our chief minister would not be even able to tell us what the triple test is. We will continue to fight for the OBC reservation,” Patil said.
While quashing the reservation for Other Backward Class (OBC) candidates in Maharashtra’s local bodies last year, the SC directed the state to comply with the “triple test” laid down by a previous top court judgement. The three conditions are: a commission must conduct empirical inquiry into the nature and implications of political backwardness of OBC communities, it must make recommendations on political reservation in local bodies, and the reservation should not exceed a 50% ceiling also including the seats reserved for Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) and women candidates.
In response, the Maharashtra government constituted the Maharashtra State Commission for Backward Classes (MSCBC) to compile empirical data on various communities. The state submitted an interim report to the SC based on data provided by the commission in January, but the apex court rejected it on March 3. The Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government then reconstituted a dedicated commission headed by former chief secretary Jayant Banthia, on March 11, which is expected to submit its response next month.
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