The Bharatiya Janata Party government in Gujarat on Tuesday announced 27% reservation for Other Backward Class communities from an earlier quota of 10% in the elections of local bodies, reported The New Indian Express.
The announcement was made ahead of the upcoming polls in 7,100 gram panchayats, 75 nagar palikas, two district panchayats and 19 taluka panchayats.
Last year, the state government had formed a panel headed by retired High Court judge KS Jhaveri to make recommendations to the state government to fix the quota in the elections to the local bodies after a Supreme Court direction in 2021.
The Supreme Court, while deciding on the legality of Other Backward Classes reservations in Maharashtra local body elections, had established a three-fold test that state governments have to follow to provide these reservations.
It said that the states must set up a dedicated commission to examine backwardness in local bodies within the state. Second, states must determine the size of the quota based on the commission’s data. Third, these reservations, combined with Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes quotas, should not be more than 50% of the total seats in the local body.
The Jhaveri commission had submitted its recommendations in April. On Tuesday, the Cabinet accepted a sub-committee report that was formed to study the recommendations of the Jhaveri Commission.
The 14% quota for Scheduled Caste candidates and the 7% quota for the Scheduled Tribes candidates in the local body polls remains unchanged.
According to the recommendations of the Jhaveri commission, the Other Backward Class communities are not eligible to get any reservation in areas where the population of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes community is above 50%, reported The Indian Express.
However, the state government has announced 10% reservation for the Other Backward Classes in those areas. “There are nine districts and 51 talukas where this provision will be applied,” head of the Cabinet sub-committee and minister Rushikesh Patel said.
The Other Backward Class community forms 52% of the population in the state, reported The New Indian Express. There are more than 146 castes classified as the Other Backward Classes.
“More than 50 MLAs in BJP belong to the OBC community, this decision has been made with careful care to guarantee that SC/ ST reservation does not suffer any harm,” BJP state president CR Patil said, reported The New Indian Express.
The total reserved seats for the Other Backward Classes has increased from 105 to 229 out of 1,090 in 33 district panchayats, reported The Indian Express. The total reserved seats for the Other Backward Classes in 248 taluka panchayats is now 1,085 from 506 out of 5,202 seats.
Out of the 1.26 lakh seats in 14,562 gram panchayats in the state, the reserved seats for the Other Backward Classes has gone up to 25,347 from 12,750. In the 680 seats of the eight municipal corporations, the reserved seats for the Other Backward Classes has increased to 183 from 67.