A day after the Madhya Pradesh State Election Commission (SEC) announced the schedule of three-tier panchayat polls, the Opposition Congress accused the BJP-led state government of doing “grave injustice” to the other backward classes (OBCs). It claimed that the government has given only a 9-13 per cent quota to the OBCs in the panchayat elections.
The allegation was made by the state Congress chief Kamal Nath, who highlighted district-wise OBC seats allocated for three-tier panchayat polls in the state.
“BJP says it will give 35 per cent quota to OBCs, but in reality it has given only 11.2 per cent seats of Zilla panchayat members to the OBC community, 9.5 per cent seats for Janpad panchayat president posts, 11.5 per cent for Janpad panchayat members and only 12.5 per cent seats for sarpanchs (head of village panchayats),” he said.
Nath further claimed that the OBCs have got zero posts for Zilla panchayat members in 19 districts, zero posts for Janpad panchayat presidents in 28 districts and zero posts for Janpad panchayat members in 10 districts.
Earlier in the day, the state Congress claimed that OBC seats had reduced by 60 per cent (compared to previous polls of 2014-15) this time. The official handle of the party claimed that the district panchayat member posts had come down by 61 per cent and in 13 districts, OBC quota had become nil.
It is noteworthy that the state government has undertaken a process for fresh reservation of seats as per Supreme Court directives, based on the report of the Madhya Pradesh State OBC Welfare Commission. The official statistics on reserved seats is not yet available in the compiled manner. The Congress has been alleging that the fresh process has only reduced the number of reserved seats for the OBC community.
As per the population-based norms, scheduled tribes (STs) get 20 per cent and scheduled castes (SCs) get 16 per cent quota in the state, leaving 14 per cent quota for the OBCs (considering the 50 per cent cap on total quota set by the Supreme Court).
Responding to the allegation, Urban Development Minister Bhupendra Singh said has that the Congress has been trying to dent the OBCs’ rights in the state. “It was Congress that went to the court. It opposed the OBC quota and this led to the SC scrapping the OBC quota for local bodies’ polls. But our government made best efforts and ensured that the local bodies’ polls would be held with OBC quota.”
Singh claimed that OBC seats have increased in many places and it has reduced in some places. In urban local bodies, 73 seats are reserved for OBCs now for Nagar Parishad (municipal council) presidents, which is same as earlier, for Nagar Palika (municipality) presidents, the OBC seats have increased from 25 to 28 while in Nagar Nigams (municipal corporations) four seats are still reserved for OBCs.