MUMBAI: State minister Chhagan Bhujbal on Wednesday said the Maharashtra government will bring an ordinance to give OBC quota in the upcoming by-elections to local governing bodies without exceeding the 50 per cent ceiling mandated by the Supreme Court on reservation.
A decision to this effect was taken in a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray here.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Bhujbal said, “The cabinet decided to issue an ordinance that will offer electoral reservation to OBCs in the upcoming by-elections. The reservation will be based on (OBC) population in the constituency where the by-elections are scheduled.” Huh. “
The Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Protection Minister said Maharashtra has taken cues from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to provide political quota through an ordinance.
“It is true that in some districts, the reservation will be reduced to 10 to 12 per cent, but the ordinance will protect the electoral quota around 90 per cent overall. The state has decided to take the ordinance route on the lines of similar decisions earlier. Taken by Andhra Pradesh and Telangana,” Bhujbal said.
The Supreme Court had in March this year read out the OBC quota in some local governing bodies in the state citing non-availability of empirical data to substantiate the percentage of reservation.
The top court had said that the total reservation should not exceed 50 per cent.
OBCs used to get 27 percent reservation in the electoral wards of municipal bodies and Zilla Parishads (Zilla Parishads).
When asked how the state will deal with the 50 per cent cap on cumulative reservation, the minister said,
“We will not cross the 50 per cent limit. Therefore, we are leaving a part of the reservation in some areas to keep our electoral quota under the 50 per cent limit.”
Instead of foregoing the entire quota, the cabinet decided to leave a part of it and retain the rest.
Meanwhile, the state will request the central government to share the empirical data with it (on the OBC population),” Bhujbal said.
On Monday, the State Election Commission (SEC) announced that by-elections to six Zilla Parishads (ZPs) and Panchayat Samitis for seats that fell vacant following the Supreme Court’s decision on OBC quota will be held on October 5.
The SEC had said that by-elections will be held for 85 wards of Zilla Parishads and 144 seats in Panchayat Samitis.
The district panchayats with by-elections are of Dhule, Nandurbar, Akola, Washim, Nagpur and Palghar and the panchayat samitis under their jurisdiction. In the first week of September, an all-party meeting convened by Chief Minister Thackeray unanimously decided that the local body elections be postponed. Unless the State Backward Classes Commission compiles empirical data giving a clear picture on the political backwardness of OBCs.