The state government constituted the Samarpit Commission headed by Retd Chief Justice K S Jhaveri to study the issue of under-representation of the OBCs in local bodies. It is likely to submit its report to the state government soon for OBC reservation in local bodies — will it be 10 per cent or 27 per cent or somewhere in between?
Even before the commission recommendations and the state decision to implement the report, the race to take credit for OBC reservation has begun between the two leading parties, the BJP and the Congress.
The BJP and the Congress both admitted that the Other Backward Classes (OBC) population in the state is 52 per cent. Some 146 sub-castes fall under the OBC category. The Congress is demanding a minimum 27 per cent reservation for the OBCs in the local bodies, panchayats and nagarpalikas. The BJP has suggested that considering the population, the commission should recommend appropriate reservation. At the same time it reminded the Commission of the Supreme Court observation that reservations for SC/ST/OBC should not exceed 50 per cent.
Mudslinging among political parties has already begun. The BJP’s spokesman Bharat Dangar has alleged that the Congress never bothered about the upliftment and reservation for any backward community and reminded that the Congress regime had not implemented the Kalelkar Commission report. The Mandal Commission report too was shelved.
Against that the Jan Sangh-supported late Babubhai Patel government accepted the Bakshi Commission’s recommendation in 1977.
Countering the BJP’s claim, GPCC former president Amit Chavda has alleged that had the state constituted an OBC commission on time as per the Supreme Court order this situation would not have arisen. The State Election Commission would not have revoked the 10 per cent reservation in local bodies.
Since July till date Chavda has addressed a number of OBC community meetings to create awareness.
The Congress is demanding reservation for a community and their representation in local bodies, all parties are going to benefit from it, argued Bharatsinh Solanki, former union minister and former president of the Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee.
The BJP has instructed all its district committees to submit a memorandum to the district collectors demanding OBC reservation in the local bodies.
Only the assembly election results will give a clear picture about which party benefited from this issue.