Amid rising outrage from the Maratha community in the wake of cancellation of quota in education and government jobs, the Maha Vikas Aghadi government received yet another blow after the Supreme Court rejected its review petition challenging the apex court’s ruling that reservations to OBCs cannot exceed 50 per cent of the seats in local bodies reserved for SCs, STs and OBCs taken together.
Although the SC order was applicable to tribal dominated Washim, Akola, Nagpur, and Bhandara local bodies, the government will have to make all efforts to pacify the OBCs which are opposed to touching their 27% quota for providing reservation to the Maratha community.
At a time when the government is struggling to keep the Maratha community, which has threatened to launch a fresh agitation from June demanding the restoration of 12% quota in education and 13% in government jobs, will now have to be ready to face anger from the OBCs. The government will have to reach out to the OBCs in a serious bid to keep them in good humour.
The government faces a major challenge to avoid confrontation simultaneously with the Maratha community and OBCs on reservation. The apex court’s move to strike review petition came when the Congress party has taken an aggressive posture against the government resolution issued on May 7 cancelling 33% reservation in promotions to SCs, STs, VJNTs and SBCs.
The Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee President Nana Patole blamed the BJP-led government at the Centre for 'not providing data'. "The SC had asked the Centre to submit data to support the OBC reservation. The Centre deliberately did not submit it; therefore the reservation was struck down. The Centre is against OBCs," he alleged.
On the other hand, OBC activist Mrunal Dhole-Patil said the apex court has observed that 27% reservation given to OBCs in panchayat samiti and zilla parishad in those tribal dominated districts lacks quantifiable data and exact caste census of the OBCs. "Both the Centre and the state government have failed to prove caste census figures of the OBCs and the quantifiable data. The SC has observed that there is no Commission to inquire about the backwardness and determine the quota of OBCs in local self-government," he noted.
"Our first demand is that the government should set up a committee of experts and collect this empirical quantifiable data. The state government has formed a committee to analyse the SC order scrapping the Maratha quota. Similar committee should be established at the earliest," said Dhole-Patil.