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Ahead of civic body polls, OBC quota issue hots up in Maharashtra- Mrit News

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Political parties in Maharashtra on Wednesday crossed swords over providing 27% reservation to the Other Backward Classes (OBC) in the upcoming municipal corporation polls in the State.

While Nationalist Congress Party chief (NCP) Sharad Pawar demanded that the Centre conduct a caste-based census to settle the matter, the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) staged a protest against the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government’s failure to implement the quota.

“Everyone here has agreed that the Central government should conduct a census of OBCs. Let the truth of the matter come out once and for all,” Mr. Pawar said at a meeting of the NCP’s OBC cell.

Mr. Pawar’s daughter, Baramati MP Supriya Sule, countered the BJP’s oft-repeated charge that the MVA government had failed to secure reservation, unlike the BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh government.

“Even though the SC until recently had not given the M.P. government permission to implement the OBC reservation, I would like to know what great deed its Chief Minister [Shivraj Singh Chouhan] did when he went to Delhi after the SC apparently cleared the decks for the implementation of the OBC quota? Who all did Mr. Chouhan meet in a couple of days? Let me also say that the court’s order is not final. So, the BJP is misleading the people when it keeps repeating that M.P. has achieved [OBC reservation] and the MVA could not,” she said.

BJP leaders detained

However, BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis lashed out at the MVA after the Mumbai police checked the party’s march towards the government secretariat, Mantralaya, and took several party leaders, including Pravin Darekar and Gopichand Padalkar, into custody. Mr. Fadnavis blamed the government’s “ineptness” for its failure to complete the Supreme Court’s triple test that would ensure the quota for OBCs ahead of the polls.

BJP State chief Chandrakant Patil accused the government of having no intention to implement the quota. “Neither is the government studying the matter nor are they coming up with any concrete plan. I challenge the CM to come before the public and explain what the triple test means and how he plans to collect the necessary empirical data,” Mr. Patil said.

He promised that even if the Supreme Court stayed the reservation in Maharashtra, the BJP would give 27% of its tickets to OBC candidates in the polls.

The triple test comprises setting up a commission to conduct an empirical study to determine the political backwardness of the community in local bodies; submitting the panel’s recommendations specifying the proportion of reservation needed; and ensuring that the reservation does not go over 50% of total seats reserved jointly for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and OBCs.

In December last year, the Supreme Court had dismissed the Maharashtra government’s writ petition asking the Centre to make public the raw data gathered in the 2011 socio-economic caste census (SECC-2011). The government had sought the SECC 2011 data from the Centre for implementing the reservation. However, the apex court quashed the plea on the grounds that the Centre had already submitted that the SECC 2011 data was fraught with mistakes.

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