Following the Supreme Courts permission to conduct the local body polls with Other Backward Classes (OBC) reservation in Madhya Pradesh, the political slugfest attempting to show their respective strength alongside with accusations continued between the BJP and the Congress in the state.
While the opposition Congress stood with the agitating section of the community and extended its support to the ‘state bandh’ call of ‘Anya Pichhadvarg Mahasabha, the union representing the OBC community on Saturday, on the other side the ruling BJP, which received the SC order as a political victory, celebrated the occasion by organising a ‘thanksgiving’ programme for Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Bhopal.
The state BJP leaders are gleefully narrating the story of their so-called political victory while highlighting the steps taken by the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government to smoothen the way for OBC reservation in Madhya Pradesh.
Ramkhelawan Patel, who is a prominent OBC face in the BJP and also a minister in Chouhan’s government, said, “The Congress was talking of OBC reservation outside, but inside it always created a hurdle. It could happen because CM Chouhan took the decision to set up an OBC Commission on September 2 last year. He fought for the OBCs despite relentless attacks from the Congress to derail the process to provide reservation to the community. Therefore, we thank Shivraj Singh Chouhan for his efforts to bring justice to OBC people.”
The Congress reiterated its claims that the party had initiated the process to increase the OBC reservation quota from the existing 14 per cent to 27 per cent during Kamal Nath’s 18-month government in Madhya Pradesh. The Congress also accused the BJP of misleading the people with false claims. It said the OBC community would get just 14 per cent reservation in the local body elections, which was already a fixed quota for the community.
Former state Congress president Arun Yadav, talking to IANS said, “Initially, former chief minister (late) Arjun Singh took the first step to provide reservation for OBCs in Madhya Pradesh and then the Digvijaya Singh-led Congress government took the process further. An OBC Commission was established in 2008, subsequently a resolution to increase the OBC reservation quota from 14 per cent to 27 per cent was passed by the state assembly.”
Yadav alleged that during the 15 years of his tenure, Shivraj Singh Chouhan kept the OBC reservation issue in cold storage. He claimed that when the Kamal Nath-led Congress government was formed in 2018, a resolution was passed again to increase the reservation quota for the OBC.
“The BJP, which kept the OBC reservation issue in cold storage for years, has no right to claim the SC judgment as a victory. Even if they are doing it, they are doing propaganda because they have nothing to tell the OBC people what they have done for them in the last 15 years. The Congress has raised its voice for increasing the reservation quota for the OBC from 14 per cent to 27 per cent and will continue to fight until it is provided to them,” Yadav said.
Veteran journalist Law Kumar Mishra, who has covered the politics of Madhya Pradesh for nearly four decades, told IANS, “If the Congress leaders claim that they took the initiative to provide reservation to the OBC, they are right. The resolution to increase the reservation quota for the OBC from 14 per cent to 27 per cent was passed by Digvijaya Singh’s government in 2008, but the matter remained in the court. And the BJP’s politics was limited to upper castes and knowing the fact that MP’s politics was upper caste dominated, they too kept the issue in cold storage. But, the scenario changed after the Narendra Modi-led Central government started giving special attention to OBC in other states.”