The Nationalist Congress Party (MCP) will field OBC candidates only on the seats reserved earlier for OBCs in local governing bodies in Maharashtra before the Supreme Court read down the quota provision, if elections are to be held, state minister Nawab Malik said on Wednesday. Incidentally, the NCPs stand on the issue is identical to that taken by the opposition BJP. Speaking to reporters after attending a meeting of NCP leaders chaired by party chief Sharad Pawar, Malik said the Maharashtra government, in which NCP is one of the constituents, is also trying to come up with a law that will offer and protect the political reservation for OBCs in local governing bodies which was nullified by the Supreme Court earlier this year. “The NCP has decided to field OBC candidates on the seats earlier reserved for OBCs. The Supreme Court had read down the earlier elections in local governing bodies and several OBC seats are vacated now. Hence, the party has taken a policy decision that it will field OBC candidates only in the elections (to the local governing bodies (in future),” he said.
The apex court on March 4 read down the Maharashtra Zilla Parishads and Panchayat Samitis Act 1961 which provided for 27 per cent reservation for people belonging to other backward classes. The SC also quashed the state election commissions notification in 2018 and 2020 on the extent of reservation for OBCs on seats in concerned local bodies.
Against this backdrop, Malik said the Maharashtra government is trying to come up with a law that will offer and protect the political reservation for OBCs in local governing bodies. “The Maharashtra state election commission has already informed the apex court that the COVID-19 situation in the state is under control and it can hold polls. In such a situation, if the act is not formed, the NCP has taken this policy decision (to fielding only OBC contestants), he said.
Malik said this decision was taken at the meeting chaired by Pawar who interacted with elected and non-elected candidates of the 2019 assembly polls, several NCP workers and others.
Pawar also asked leaders to raise their voice against the rising fuel prices in their respective areas while adhering to COVID appropriate protocol, he said.
Interestingly, Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis, who belongs to BJP, had said, If the Maharashtra government fails to resolve the issue of OBC quota in the local governing bodies, BJP will field candidates from OBC community only, though those seats look like open seats post the SC decision. We will treat those seats as reserved for OBCs. We will not get deterred by possible loss in elections, but we will field only OBC candidates”. All political parties in Maharashtra had met in Mumbai last month and agreed to restore the reservation for OBCs in local governing bodies. They had also opposed to holding civic polls till the quota is reinstated, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray was quoted as saying in an official release.
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