Mumbai: Senior NCP leader and Maharashtra minister Chhagan Bhujbal on Wednesday said the Supreme Court order on the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) quota was a setback to the state government and it should do everything it can to save the community’s reservation.
State Congress president Nana Patole also said that the state government should take up the collection of data related to the OBCs immediately and ensure their political reservation stays.
NCP and Congress share power in the Shiv Sena-led Maharashtra government.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a plea filed by the Maharashtra government seeking a direction to the Centre and other authorities to disclose to the state the Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 raw caste data of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs). The apex court, while rejecting the petition, said the state is at liberty to pursue other remedies available under the law.
The Centre had told the court that the SECC 2011 data is “absolutely unreliable” as several infirmities were found in it. It had also told the SC that the SECC 2011 is “not” an OBC data and it was not made public as it was found to be “flawed”, and “bound to mislead”.
Talking to reporters here, Bhujbal said the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government sought postponement of the local bodies elections, but the central government opposed the plea.
“The Centre told the apex court that the empirical data was not collected for the OBC census and cannot be given to the states. The next hearing will be in January, during which the court will take information of the data collected by the Backward Class Commission. The state government should ensure the OBC political reservation stays,” he said.
“If there was no empirical data, what did Devendra Fadnavis seek from the Centre when he was the chief minister?” Bhujbal asked, and said that he would participate in all the protests staged in the state aimed at protecting the OBC quota.
Patole said the state government should take up the data collection of OBCs immediately and ensure that the political reservation stays.
Hitting out at the BJP, Patole said the central government had deliberately not shared the empirical data with the state.
“If the empirical data with the Centre was faulty, why did former CM Devendra Fadnavis and the then rural development minister Pankaja Munde write to the Centre, during their tenure, seeking the data be shared with the state government?” he asked.
Patole also accused the central government of not being in favour of the OBC census.
On Wednesday, on a separate plea of the Maharashtra government, the Supreme Court directed the State Election Commission (SEC) to notify 27 per cent seats in the local body, which were reserved for the OBCs, as general category so that the poll process can be taken forward.
The apex court had on December 6 stayed till further orders the local body election in the state on seats reserved for the OBCs and had made it clear that the poll process for the other seats would continue. But in its Wednesday’s order, it said there is no reason to modify the December 6 order and noted that the hiatus cannot be continued for an indefinite period.
In March this year, the apex court had said that reservation in favour of OBCs in local bodies in Maharashtra cannot exceed an aggregate of 50 per cent of the total seats reserved for Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and OBCs taken together.