Local body polls: Consensus among parties, says Maharashtra CM after all-party meet on OBC quota

Sources said that the views of leaders of all political parties were sought at the meeting in order to resolve the OBC reservation issue.

Ahead of the urban and local bodies polls including Mumbai, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray held a meeting with all party leaders on Friday wherein it was decided to study the legal aspects of providing political reservation to the OBC community. Thackeray said that another meeting would be held next Friday to take a unanimous decision on the issue.

Sources said that the views of leaders of all political parties were sought at the meeting in order to resolve the OBC reservation issue. The formula discussed in the meeting was to provide reservation to the OBC community minus SC and ST within the 50 per cent reservation limit. The government is considering compensating for the OBC reservation, which will be zero or a negligible percentage in a few districts, by providing it in districts having less tribal population, said sources.

“OBC reservation will be reduced in some districts while it can be increased in some districts. So there was a discussion on how this can be compensated and the legal aspects of the issue are being studied,” said Eknath Shinde, Shiv Sena minister.

Sources said that of the 35 districts, there are 20 districts wherein the OBC reservation will not be impacted at all and can be given between 27 and 35 per cent. Of the remaining 15 districts, OBC reservation will be reduced between 22 to 27 per cent in 10 districts. The issue is more complex in the remaining five tribal-dominated districts including Nandurbar, Gadchiroli and Palghar, where OBC reservation will be zero or a negligible percentage.

“So, one of views in the meeting was that the OBC reservation, which will be hugely impacted in five tribal-dominated districts and will be reduced to some extent in the 10 districts, should be compensated by giving additional reservation in the 20 districts having less tribal population,” said a senior leader, who was present for the meeting, requesting anonymity.

The leader further said that if the law and judiciary department gives a go-ahead to this proposal, then the government may issue a notification or promulgate an ordinance to give effect to the OBC reservation in the local bodies, which has currently been struck down by the SC.

CM Uddhav Thackeray said that there is a consensus among all parties that OBCs should get political reservation. “In this regard, after studying the suggestions and multiple options received in today’s all-party meeting, we will hold a meeting next Friday to reach a unanimous decision on the issue,” said Thackeray in a statement.

Thackeray further said that the sentiment of all leaders was that local body elections should not be held without OBC reservation.

The CM had called a meeting of all party leaders to build consensus on the issue. The meeting was attended by senior NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena ministers including Ajit Pawar, Chhagan Bhujbal, Balasaheb Thorat, Anil Parab, Eknath Shinde and opposition leaders Devendra Fandavis and Pravin Darekar and other leaders from smaller parties.

“We urged the state government not to hold any local body elections until OBC reservation is restored in Maharashtra. We emphasized that the government should initiate the process of empirical data which can be completed within four to five months. The empirical data on OBC is integral to restoration of the quota in local bodies,” said Fadnavis, adding that he placed his views before the government on how to go about restoring OBC reservation.

In its order on March 4, the SC asked the state government to comply with the triple conditions – setting up a dedicated commission for empirical data of OBCs, specifying the proportion of reservation and should not exceed 50 per cent ceiling — before notifying the seats reserved for the OBC category. It had also stated that such reservation, in any case, shall not exceed the aggregate of 50 per cent of the total seats reserved in favour of SCs, STs and OBCs taken together. The government had filed the review petition in SC but it was rejected by the apex court.

Inputs from Shubhangi Khapre

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