Supreme Court OKs Backward Classes Quota In Madhya Pradesh Local Polls

Local body polls in Madhya Pradesh have been due for over two years, and more than 23,000 local body seats are currently vacant.

Supreme Court OKs Backward Classes Quota In Madhya Pradesh Local Polls

The Supreme Court accepted the report of the Backward Classes Welfare Commission.

New Delhi/Bhopal:

In a big relief for the Madhya Pradesh government, the Supreme Court on Wednesday cleared the way for up to 35 per cent reservation for the politically vital Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in local body elections.

Accepting a report by the state's Backward Classes Welfare Commission, the Supreme Court asked the State Election Commission to announce elections within a week.

The order reverses instructions issued by the court on May 10 which had asked for elections to be announced without the reservation - a move that had been opposed by the state government.

In a demonstration of how critical the issue had been for the government, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan even cancelled his foreign trip, organised to draw foreign investment, and stayed back to oversee the petition to request the Supreme Court to review its judgement.

"It's a historic day. It has been proven again that truth can't lose. I thank the Supreme Court. We had said we want polls, but with OBC reservation. Congress had sinned and had gone to Supreme Court due to which it was earlier directed that polls would be held without OBC reservation," Mr Chauhan said on Wednesday.

Local body polls in Madhya Pradesh have been due for over two years, and more than 23,000 local body seats are currently vacant.

OBCs are the biggest voting bloc in Madhya Pradesh which has had three Chief Ministers from the demographic in the last 19 years - Uma Bharti, Babulal Gaur and Shivraj Singh Chouhan, all from the BJP.

According to a recent reported submitted by the Madhya Pradesh Backward Class Welfare Commission before the Supreme Court, 48 per cent of the state's people were from OBCs with a major chunk in Gwalior-Chambal, Bundelkhand, Vindhya and Central Madhya Pradesh regions.

Over 100 out of the total 230 assembly seats in the state have a sizeable share of OBC votes, which since 2003 has largely sided with the BJP, but in 2018 polls, shifted in considerable numbers towards the Congress.

State Congress chief and former Chief Minister Kamal Nath had announced that 27 per cent of the party's tickets in local body polls will be allotted to OBC candidates. State BJP chief VD Sharma, meanwhile, announced that the party will give more than 27 per cent tickets to "deserving" OBC candidates, though the priority is to pave the passage for 35 per cent OBC reservation through the review petition in the top court.

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