Maharashtra government, Opposition hail SC order allowing OBC quota in local polls
Both ruling and Opposition parties in Maharashtra welcomed the Supreme Court order that accepted the Jayant Banthia commission report and directed reservation be provided for Other Backward Classes in local body polls.
“The Supreme Court has accepted OBC reservation in local body polls. We are the soldiers of Balasaheb Thackeray who never backtrack on a given word,” said Chief Minister Eknath Shinde.
Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “This is the victory of the entire OBC community. The welfare of OBCs, bahujans and the poor is our agenda and will remain so. I thank all who were part of the process.”
In March, the then tripartite government announced a committee led by former chief secretary Jayant Banthia for collating empirical data on the OBCs following the apex court’s refusal to accept an interim report of the state backward class commission.
The Opposition said it was the committee formed under the previous government that had ensured political reservation for the OBCs. “The Supreme Court order is a victory of honest efforts put forward by the Maha Vikas Aghadi government,” said Ajit Pawar, leader of the Opposition and former deputy chief minister.
NCP state president Jayant Patil demanded that the local body election schedule be announced immediately now that the OBC reservation issue has been solved.
In Maharashtra, OBCs include denotified tribes, nomadic tribes and the Special Backward Category.
The state implemented the 27 per cent OBC reservation in civic body elections in 1994. In 2018, Vikas Gawali, a former member of zilla parishad from Washim district, approached the Bombay High Court and sought a stay on the election process in Washim and Akola districts citing the breaching of the 50 per cent ceiling for reservation. The court ordered the status quo but the elections were delayed. Gawali approached the Supreme Court, which passed an interim order directing the State Election Commission to conduct the polls subject to the final order of the pending petition.
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