In accordance with the Supreme Court’s directive on re-notifying seats reserved for Other Backward Classes (OBC) in local body polls, the Maharashtra State Election Commission on Friday said that voting for seats initially kept for the OBC category will now be held on January 18.
However, voting for the remaining seats in the elections to 106 nagar panchayats, and the two zilla parishads of Bhandara and Gondia, will be held according to the previously decided schedule on December 21, said the State Election Commissioner U.P.S. Madan.
Counting for all the seats, which was initially slated for December 22, has now been deferred to January 19, that is, after the polling to the de-reserved seats is completed on January 18.
Besides this, by-elections to four vacant civic body seats and 7,130 posts in 4,544 gram panchayats will also be held on December 21.
K.V. Kurundkar, Secretary to the State Election Commission, said: “The seats that were meant for OBCs will now be treated as ‘general category’ seats in accordance with the Supreme Court order. Of these, 50% will have to be given to women. We have already issued directions to various Collectors to ensure that reservation is kept for women on seats in the general category.”
The Supreme Court on December 15 had dismissed a writ petition by the Maharashtra government, which sought the Centre to make public the raw data of the 2011 socio-economic caste census (SECC-2011) to enable the State to implement 27% reservation to the OBC community in local body polls.
However, the apex court quashed the plea on grounds that the Centre had already submitted that the SECC-2011 data was fraught with mistakes and directed the State Election Commission to re-notify the 27% seats hitherto reserved for OBC category as ‘general category’ seats and commence the election process for them along with the remaining 73% seats.
The EC’s announcement today comes as a setback to the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, which had urged the Commission to defer the local bodies polls until the OBC reservation imbroglio could be sorted out. The State Cabinet meeting on Wednesday had passed a resolution as well, seeking postponement of the polls.
The SC’s order on Wednesday has resulted in a blame game between the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the ruling MVA, with the BJP along with OBC leaders in Maharashtra accusing the MVA’s “delaying tactics” and alleged “inefficiency” for having cost the OBC community political reservation.