Maharashtra government devises formula for OBC quota in local body polls

Uddhav Thackeray calls all-party meet today to build consensus

Days after the Supreme Court struck down the OBC reservation in the local bodies polls, the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government has devised a formula to provide reservation to the OBCs minus SC and ST reservation within the ceiling of 50 per cent reservation for the upcoming local body polls.

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has called a meeting of all political parties on Friday to build consensus on the formula and a formal announcement could be made after the meeting.

Sources in the government said that the formula was discussed by leaders of the MVA and there is an agreement about it among them. “The proposed formula is to provide reservation to the OBCs minus the SC and ST reservation within the ceiling of 50 per cent reservation,” a cabinet minister told The Indian Express on condition of anonymity.

Explaining the formula, the minister said that if SC and ST reservation is 27 or 25 or 30 per cent in a district, then the remaining 23 or 25 or 20 per cent reservation within the ceiling of 50 per cent will be given to OBCs.

“In the new proposal, the 50 per ceiling of reservation will not be breached by the state. As of now, there is zero per cent reservation for the OBC community after it was struck down by the SC. So, with this formula, the OBCs will get a certain per cent reservation in local bodies rather than zero per cent. This is the only way out to provide reservation to the OBC community in the upcoming local body polls,” added the minister.

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 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 a review petition in the SC but it was rejected by the apex court.

Another cabinet minister said that political consensus needs to be built to ensure that there is no opposition to the decision on the formula. “If the MVA government takes the decision, it is possible that the opposition may challenge it and it may lead to a lot of politics. It is to ensure that nobody challenges the formula. That is why a meeting of all party leaders has been called by the CM to build consensus among them and then announce a decision on it,” the minister said. The minister added that if consensus is built, the required amendments would be made in the law to give effect to it.

Sources said that Thackeray will hold a meeting on Friday with all political parties, including the opposition BJP and MNS.

Thackeray’s call for the meeting comes a day after the state election commission (SEC) issued directions to 18 municipal corporations including Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to start preparing the draft ward boundaries in view of the impending civic polls. These corporations have been asked to start preparation for the exercise from August 27.

Sources in the government said that elections to the 10 municipal corporations and 25 zilla parishads, which is considered a “mini assembly” in political parlance, are likely to be held early next year. “With SEC carrying out the exercise of draft ward boundaries and the government’s move to resolve the OBC reservation, the elections for the urban and local bodies are likely to be held as per schedule,” said a minister.

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