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Mrunal Manmay Dash

Even though the upcoming elections to the three-tier Panchayati Raj Institutions in Odisha is still some time away, the issue of reservation of seats is already setting the tone for an intense showdown between the major political parties next year.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress on Sunday targeted the Odisha government over the reservation process and the quota fixed under amended State Panchayat Laws passed recently in the last Assembly Monsoon session. Both of them unequivocally alleged that the laws were faulty.

Addressing a press conference in Bhubaneswar, Surath Biswal, the State President of BJP OBC Front said, "Even though the government has capped the maximum reservation at 27pc for the Other Backward Classes, there is no mention of the minimum reservation for the OBC.

"Due to this anomaly, at least four districts do not have even one OBC seat reserved for Zilla Parishad Members” added Biswal.

"The executive order passed by the government was intended to mislead the people with political jargons without clearing air on many important questions," said the BJP leader.

Similarly, Congress leader Debasis Patnaik was not satisfied by the rule either. Terming it as arbitrary, Patnaik said, “It could have been passed after due consultation with all political parties. The population has not been taken into consideration by the government while fixing the quota limits. It does not seem to me like a fair play, rather it is foul play.”

However, playing down the allegations, BJD Vice President, Sashi Bhusan Behera said, “There are ample provisions to rectify the law if any. The grievances of the people can be taken into consideration and the law can be modified accordingly.”

It is pertinent to mention here that taking the first step towards the conduct of the upcoming Panchayat elections, the Odisha government on October 8, published the draft lists of reservations for the same. The State Election Commission has asked the government to complete all the process of reservation by October 30.

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