Close on the heels of the letter war between Maharashtra Governor B S Koshyari and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on crime against women, the former has sent back the draft ordinance on providing reservation to the OBC community in the local and civic bodies and has sought clarification from the state government on certain legal issues. The Governor wanted to know if the state government can bring an ordinance when the quota matter is pending with the Supreme Court.
However, the state cabinet chaired by Thackeray on Wednesday discussed the queries raised by the Governor and approved a revised draft. A senior MVA government minister told Free Press Journal, “As per the cabinet’s decision in the statement of object and reason, the government in the revised ordinance will say the reservation will be provided to the OBC community below the 50% ceiling imposed by the Supreme Court or 27%, whichever is lower. This means, after ensuring reservation for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and OBCs, the quota will not exceed the 50% limit in civic and local bodies. In most districts, the OBCs will get a 27% quota as proposed in the revised draft ordinance. The cabinet hopes that the Governor will clear the revised draft and thereafter it will be issued. This will be applicable in the zilla parishads, panchayat samitis and municipal corporations.”
The minister said, “The Governor sent back the draft ordinance as the officers, who drafted it, had mentioned that the Supreme Court’s approval will be needed. However, the cabinet was unanimous that such an approval was not required and therefore approved the OBC quota well within the 50% quota.”
He informed that the government will send the ordinance to the state election commission (SEC). The SEC will decide whether or not the ordinance will be applicable for the upcoming by-polls to the local bodies, slated for October 5. Also, if it will be applicable for civic and local body polls, slated for early 2022.
A veteran NCP minister and Samata Parishad founder Chhagan Bhujbal said that the Governor will clear the ordinance as seats where the by-polls are slated for October 5 cannot remain without OBC representation. However, after the ordinance is issued, the reservation will be based on the OBC population in the constituency, where the by-polls have been scheduled.
Already ruling and opposition parties have decided to field OBC candidates in the vacant seats during the ensuing by-polls in local bodies.