Mumbai: Days after Supreme Court asked MahaVikas Aghadi government to submit OBC data, CM Uddhav Thackeray today convened meeting of senior ministers of ruling alliance.
The Maha Vikas Aghadi government on Wednesday heaved a major sigh of relief as the Supreme Court asked it to submit the data and information on Other Backward Classes available with the state to the Maharashtra State Backward Classes Commission (MSBCC). The apex court said that the MSBCC could submit the interim report if so advised to the concerned authorities within two weeks from receipt of information/data from the state government.
If the Supreme Court accepts the state government’s data, it will pave the way for the restoration of 27 per cent political reservation to the OBC community which was scrapped last year, citing it was above the 50 per cent quota ceiling.
This will then be applicable in the upcoming elections to the municipal corporations of Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Nashik, Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad and a couple of others and also various zilla parishads in the state.
The state government had thereafter issued an ordinance providing OBC quota in local bodies below 50 per cent quota limit but this too was stayed by the apex court. In the recently concluded winter session, the legislature had unanimously passed a resolution that local body elections should not be held in the absence of OBC quota.
Veteran NCP Minister Chhagan Bhujbal hailed the apex court order and told The Free Press Journal, “The state government has an OBC data compiled by the MSBCC formed by the BJP-led government to collect data on Maratha community to provide quota. Besides, the government also has data on the scholarships provided to OBCs in education and for students pursuing higher education that will also be submitted. The state government had asked the apex court to permit elections based on the data already available to the state concerning other backward classes.” Further, said Bhujbal, who is the founder of Samata Parishad, in its review petition it was submitted that as per the constitutional amendment the state government would have the power to identify and include the OBCs in their respective lists.
OBC quota expert Hari Narke said that the apex court had given major relief to the OBC community and the Maha Vikas Aghadi government. “The OBC quota can be restored based on the data from various studies of the rural development department available in the state, sample observation and data from the socio-economic and caste census 2011 (excluding caste). This is a major victory for the state government. The big thing is that the Maharashtra State Backward Classes Commission, the State Election Commission and the state government can save OBC reservation temporarily by adopting a sympathetic and social justice approach,” he noted.
However, a senior bureaucrat claimed that if the OBC quota in the local body were to be restored after the SC accepted the OBC data submitted by the state government, it would be a temporary relief. “The MSBCC will have to complete the compilation of OBC data as a part of the triple test sought by the apex court. This will then will be submitted to the SC, which will later decide the matter as the OBC quota should not cross the 50 per cent quota ceiling.” He recalled that the state government had earmarked Rs 450 crore for the MSBCC to compile empirical data on the OBCs in supplementary demands.