OBC quota: Maha Vikas Aghadi govt to table 2 bills on Monday

SEC will decide poll schedule but with new legislation, the state government will have powers on delimitation of wards and related matters Ruling and opposition legislators argued that there should not be local body elections without OBC quota Both the houses were adjourned for the day amid slogan shouting by BJP on OBC quota

Sanjay JogUpdated: Friday, March 04, 2022, 11:24 PM IST
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MVA government | Photo: Twitter Image

In a significant political development, the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government will table a bill on the lines of the Madhya Pradesh Act, so that no elections to the 15 municipal corporations, 25 zilla parishads and 232 nagar parishads can be held without the 27 per cent reservation for the OBC community. A day after the Supreme Court rejected the interim report of the Maharashtra State Backward Classes Commission (MSBCC) recommending the restoration of 27 per cent OBC reservation in local bodies, the state cabinet approved the tabling of two bills to amend the Maharashtra Gram Panchayat Act 1959, the Maharashtra Zilla Parishad & Panchayat Samiti Act, 1961, and the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, the Maharashtra Municipal Corporations Act and Maharashtra Municipal Councils, Nagar Panchayats and Industrial Townships Act, 1965, proposing powers to the state government for the delimitation of wards and the number of members in these bodies.

The State Election Commission (SEC) will continue to enjoy the power to schedule elections. However, elections cannot take place unless the state government takes a decision on the delimitation of wards and finalizes the number of members of the civic and local bodies. The state government’s move is crucial especially when the SEC is expecting reports from 15 municipal corporations on the delimitation of wards. Only after studying these reports was the SEC supposed to declare the poll schedule.

The government’s move is also important given that elections to 15 municipal corporations including Mumbai, 25 zilla parishads and 232 municipal councils are due in the current year. Crucially, both the ruling and opposition parties have said that there won’t be elections without OBC reservation. This is in order to ensure that the OBCs are not deprived of the opportunity to participate in the poll process.

The state government’s move is also important as none of the parties can afford to have elections without OBC reservation, as it will mean paying a huge price, politically.

Earlier, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar announced in the state council that the state cabinet would approve the bills on the lines of the Madhya Pradesh Act and table it in the state legislature on Monday, reiterating that the government was committed to restoring the OBC quota scrapped by the Supreme Court last year.

Pawar said, as per the Madhya Pradesh Act, the SEC continues to enjoy powers with regard to announcing the election schedule but the state government holds the powers when it comes to delimitation of wards and related matters.

Pawar called on the opposition to refrain from politicizing the issue and clarified that neither was the government working under any pressure nor would it succumb to any.

Pawar said the state government had already provided funds to the MSBCC for the compilation of empirical data on the OBCs, adding that it would be done in the stipulated format.

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