Maharashtra government to issue ordinance for OBC quota in local body bypolls



MUMBAI: The Maharashtra government will bring an ordinance to grant OBC quota in upcoming by-elections to a set of local governing bodies without crossing the Supreme Court-mandated 50 per cent cap on reservation, said state minister Chhagan Bhujbal on Wednesday.

A decision to this effect was taken at a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray here.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Bhujbal said, “The cabinet decided to issue an ordinance which will offer electoral reservation to OBCs in the upcoming by-elections. The reservation will be based on (OBC) population in the constituency where bypolls are scheduled.”

Maharashtra has taken cues from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to provide political quota through the ordinance route, said the Minister for Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Protection.

“It is true that in some districts, reservation will come down by 10 to 12 per cent, but the ordinance will protect the electoral quota for almost 90 per cent overall. The state has decided to take the ordinance route on lines of similar decisions previously taken by Andhra Pradesh and Telangana,” said Bhujbal.

The Supreme Court in March this year had read down the OBC quota in some local governing bodies in the state citing non-availability of empirical data to substantiate the reservation percentage.

The apex court had observed that total reservation should not exceed 50 per cent.

OBCs used to get 27 per cent reservation in electoral wards of municipal bodies and zilla parishads (district councils).

Asked how the state will tackle the 50 per cent limit on cumulative reservation, the minister said,

“We will not cross the 50 per cent cap. Hence, we are giving up a portion of reservation in some areas to keep our electoral quota under 50 per cent cap.”

Instead of losing the entire quota, the cabinet decided to give up a portion of it and maintain the remaining quota.

Meanwhile, the state will request the Union government to share empirical data with it (on OBC population),” said Bhujbal.

On Monday, the State Election Commission (SEC) announced that by-elections to six zilla parishads (ZPs) and panchayat samitis under them for seats which have fallen vacant after the Supreme Court’s OBC quota ruling will be held on October 5.

By-elections will be held for 85 wards in zilla parishads and 144 seats in panchayat samitis falling under their (ZP’s) jurisdiction, the SEC had said.

The bypoll-bound ZPs are of Dhule, Nandurbar, Akola, Washim, Nagpur and Palghar and panchayat samitis coming under their jurisdiction In the first week of September, an all-party meeting convened by Chief Minister Thackeray unanimously decided that local body polls be postponed till the state backward class commission compiles empirical data giving a clear picture on political backwardness of OBCs.

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