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Gujarat govt announces 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in local self-governing bodies

Gandhinagar: The BJP government in Gujarat on Tuesday announced a 27 per cent reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in local bodies like panchayats, municipalities and civic corporations on the basis of a commission’s report, paving the way for polls in these self-governing institutes.

However, in areas notified under the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) (PESA) Act — most of them with substantial tribal population — the reservation for OBCs in local bodies will continue to be 10 per cent. Also, the existing quota for Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes remain unchanged and there has been no breach of the 50 per cent reservation ceiling, the Gujarat government said.

Earlier, OBC reservation in local bodies was 10 per cent in Gujarat.

The announcement, based on the Justice Jhaveri Commission report, comes before the Lok Sabha elections and will pave the way of holding of local body polls which were postponed due to the pending quota issue after the Supreme Court mandated that reservation for OBCs should be on the basis of their population.

“On the basis of the Jhaveri Commission report, a cabinet sub-committee recommended 27 per cent reservations for OBC in local bodies and the recommendation was accepted by the state cabinet on Tuesday,” Gujarat minister and government spokesperson Rushikesh Patel told reporters here.

“Earlier, OBC reservation in local bodies was 10 per cent in Gujarat. On direction of the Supreme Court a commission was appointed to redefine seat reservation for OBCs in local bodies. We received the report of the Jhaveri Commission in April. After that deliberations were carried out by a sub-committee of the cabinet,” he said. After the announcement, seats in panchayats (gram, taluka and district), municipalities and municipal corporations will be kept reserved for OBC candidates in 27 per cent proportion when elections are held, Patel said. “However, in the PESA notified areas the reservation will continue to be 10 per cent for OBCs,” the minister maintained, adding this has been done to protect the interest of tribals. The PESA notified areas include 50 predominantly tribal talukas in eight districts of the state. Patel said the reservation for Scheduled Castes (14 per cent) and Scheduled Tribes (7 per cent) in local bodies has not been touched and will remain the same.

“There is a 50 per cent cap on reservation (mandated by the apex court). So, we cannot make it beyond 27 per cent reservation for OBCs,” he said.

The BJP government set up a commission, headed by Gujarat High Court Judge KS Jhaveri (retired), in July 2022 to collect and analyse data about the nature and implications of backwardness in local bodies, an exercise necessary for fixing the OBC quota in elections for institutes of local self-governance.

The Supreme Court had earlier directed that seats to be reserved for OBC candidates in each local body will be decided as per recommendations of a commission following a detailed study. The opposition Congress has been demanding that the report of the commission be made public and reservation be announced for OBCs in local self-government bodies. The party had organised a sit-in protest in Gandhinagar on the issue earlier this month. Elections in many local bodies were postponed by the government as OBCs were demanding resolution of the quota issue, as per directions of the Supreme Court, before polls are held.

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