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‘Will Put Life at Stake’: OBC Reservation in Panchayat Polls Rocks Madhya Pradesh Assembly

The Supreme Court’s stay on the OBC reservation rocked the Madhya Pradesh assembly on Tuesday as both the BJP and Congress party accused each other of being ignorant towards the welfare of backward classes and pledged for restoring the OBC quota in Panchayat polls. The winter session of the state assembly started on Monday.

The assembly had taken up the discussion on the issue as the proceeding started as a dozen Congress MLAs including Kamleshwar Patel, working president Jitu Patwari and others had offered an adjournment motion to the speaker, seeking a discussion on the issue.

Claiming that the Congress party since the times of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru worked for OBC welfare and reservation, Patel accused BJP of conniving to end OBC reservation in Panchayat polls, adding the party did nothing after the SC stayed the matter. The government brought in an Ordinance on delimitation and rotation of reservation in haste, alleged Patel.

Minister Bhupendra Patel while replying to the charges came out with the list of five writ petitions and eventually got the OBC reservation stayed at the Supreme Court and was now making hue and cry on the matter. He dared someone to prove him wrong and offered to tender resignation if he was proved wrong. Former Finance minister Tarun Bhanot hit back saying government counsels did not appear in the hearing before the court persistently and he also could resign from the assembly if proved wrong on this.

Singh had alleged the Kamal Nath government had resorted to the delimitation of seats erratically in 2019 to further its own interests.

As MLAs from both sides keep attacking each other, minister Singh said they could put their lives at stake but won’t let OBC reservation be hampered.

Leader of Opposition Kamal Nath and Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan came face to face on the debate accusing each other’s parties to be cheating backward classes on reservation and jobs.

Nath slammed BJP MLAs for misleading the House with vague facts and figures which were off target from the subject. Referring to his tenure, Nath said his government had resorted to reservation rotation and also hiked the OBC quota to 27%. He attacked the Shivraj government saying the BJP in power did nothing for one year and a half on OBC quota and did not organise Panchayat polls even as by-polls were held continuously to save the minority government.

He underlined the fact that debate should focus on the thing that prompted the Congress party to move the court and clarified that they approached the court on the rotation of reservation and delimitation and not against OBC reservation. He also slammed the Shivraj government for doing little to get the SC to stay vacated. “You people did not offer any solution which prompted Congress to move adjournment motions,” added Nath asking BJP to collectively move the court to restore OBC reservation in panchayat polls.

In reply, Chouhan too accused Congress of moving the court and getting the OBC quota stayed deliberately while not opposing the court observations. He said his government implemented a 27 per cent OCB quota in jobs and the Congress MLA shouted that his government was implementing their government’s policies.

He affirmed that in coordination with the Centre, the government was making round-the-clock efforts to restore the OBC quota. He accused the Congress party of backstabbing the OBCs.

Kamal Nath termed Shivraj Chouhan’s promise of making the best possible efforts for the OBC quota as a victory of the Congress party’s demands.

After the House was adjourned, Congress’ Kamleshwar Patel stuck to his point that the Shivraj government deliberately did nothing to save the OBC quota claiming the BJP MLAs lied and mislead the House. UAD minister Bhupendra Singh also affirmed that BJP was committed to the OBC reservation in panchayat polls and claimed these polls will take place only with the OBC reservation in any case.

OBC reservation stayed by SC

Congress leaders including Rajya Sabha MP Vivek Tankha had moved SC against the Shivraj government’s Ordinance on reservation rotation and delimitation and the SC had directed to stay the OBC quota in panchayat polls and instructed State Election Commission to convert OBC reserved seats in underserved seats. As Tankha was slammed for his petition in assembly, the lawyer spoke to the media in Jabalpur and claimed it was the Congress government that had offered a 25% OBC quota in 1994 in panchayats. Accusing BJP leaders of targeting him unnecessarily, Tankha said he would file a defamation case on BJP leaders with the HC.

HC declines relief

Reacting to a petition from Congress leader Syed Zafar, the high court on Monday declined to stay the Ordinance amid the ongoing polling process saying it was beyond their jurisdiction. The HC though served notices to SEC and state government seeking replies within two weeks. “The HC has observed that constitutional provisions of rotation seemed breached and we will approach the SC with fresh facts,” said Zafar.

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