Fadnavis accuses MVA of ‘murdering’ OBC reservation in Maharashtra 

Former Maharashtra Chief Minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis. File photo

Former Maharashtra Chief Minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis. File photo | Photo Credit: NAGARA GOPAL

After the Supreme Court cleared the decks for the implementation of reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBC) in the local body elections in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh, the party in Maharashtra led by Devendra Fadnavis lashed out at the tripartite ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’s’ government for its “ineptness” in completing the triple test which would have ensured reservation for the State’s OBC community ahead of the local body polls.

Mr. Fadnavis claimed that the MVA’s alleged foot-dragging had virtually “murdered” OBC reservation issue in the State.

“This government has literally killed off the OBC reservation… It is now clear that the State government’s incompetence has brought this suffering for the OBCs. Those in responsible posts ought to be tendering their resignations,” said the BJP leader.

Accusing the MVA parties of playing petty politics instead of getting its act together on the OBC issue, Mr. Fadnavis contrasted the Maharashtra government’s apparently lacklustre approach with the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led government’s proactive approach in Madhya Pradesh.

“The Madhya Pradesh government had prepared its empirical data on the OBC community and submitted its report to the SC, which had rejected the government’s consolidated figures. The MP government, which constituted a dedicated commission, then immediately prepared OBC data specifically with regard to local bodies and furnished it before the Apex court. While we [the BJP] have been urging the MVA government to prepare empirical data for the past two-and-a half years, its leaders did nothing but make speeches,” he said.

The triple test

As part of the so-called ‘triple test’, a dedicated commission is set up to conduct an empirical investigation to determine the backwardness of the community in the local bodies as a first step, while the second step concerns the panel’s recommendations specifying the proportion of reservation needed for the local body. The third step ensures that the reservation does not go over the aggregate 50% of the total seats reserved jointly for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and OBCs.  

In December last year, the Supreme Court had dismissed the Maharashtra government’s writ petition which wanted the Centre to make public the raw data gathered in the 2011 socio-economic caste census (SECC-2011). The government wanted the data for implementing reservation to the OBC community in local body polls. However, the apex court quashed the plea on the ground that the Centre had already submitted that the SECC 2011 data was fraught with mistakes. 

Mr. Fadnavis said that during the first year of the MVA’s rule, the State government merely kept pointing fingers at the Centre on the issue.

“Then when they finally constituted the backward castes commission to study the OBC community, they did not fund the commission adequately. After that, they submitted a haphazard report to the court which was rejected. But we will not let this government rest easy. We will take to the streets on this issue,” warned Mr. Fadnavis.

BJP leader and former Maharashtra Minister Pankaja Munde, a notable OBC face in her party, urged the MVA to ensure reservation by following the pattern adopted by the MP government. BJP Leader of Opposition in the State Legislative Council Pravin Darekar questioned whether the top leaders of the MVA alliance were really interested in giving reservation to the OBC community. 

MPCC’s poser

Countering the BJP, Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) chief Nana Patole and Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant wondered how it was possible for the SC to permit implementation of the OBC reservation for the MP government when until a week ago, it had said that unless the triple test formality was completed by it ‘in all respects’, no reservation for the OBCs in local bodies could be provisioned.

“Until a week ago, the SC had not given the MP government permission… So what happened in such a short span of time? Did the MP government manage to submit the empirical data as demanded by the SC within these few days? Or did the MP government conjure up some miracle? We will have to see the SC’s oder,” said Mr. Patole.

Congressman Balasaheb Thorat, meanwhile, said that while the SC’s decision on permitting OBC reservation in local body polls in MP was welcome, the Maharashtra government had left no stone unturned to get reservation for the OBC community in local bodies.

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Printable version | May 19, 2022 12:11:09 am |