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Pradeep Singh

The Odisha Cabinet on Wednesday approved the proposed amendments to the Odisha Gram Panchayat Election Rules, paving way for the conduct of Panchayat polls in the State. Once the amendments are made and come into effect, all reservations will be capped below the 50 per cent ceiling limit as directed by the Supreme Court.

Now, the big question is how much reservation will Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) will get? 

As per reports, SEBC are likely to get 11.25 percent while SC and ST will get 16.25 percent and 22.5 per cent quota respectively.

Importantly, to provide reservation to the different sections for Ward Member and Sarpanch, Samiti Sabhya (member), and Zilla Parishad positions, the population of SCs, STs and backward classes in Panchayat, block and district levels will be taken into consideration respectively.

However, on the basis of the population of these three classes, the reservation to block chairman and Zilla Parishad chairman will be considered. In case the population of SCs and STs is less in a particular region, their remaining quota of seats will be given to backward classes but under no circumstances, their total reservation will cross 27 per cent.

The Cabinet has also reportedly given its approval to the Odisha Municipal Act. Once it comes into effect, reservations will be done as the population of the SCs, STs and backward classes. At some places where the population of SCs and STs is less, the backward classes may get 27 per cent reservation. 

Meanwhile, Congress MLA Tara Prasad Bahinipati said, "There is a need for OBC reservation. Naveen babu has announced the reservation eyeing the Panchayat elections. However, he also needs to announce the same in education and employment sectors."

Years after the BJP raised the issue, the State government has started working towards it. "I had filed a writ petition over the issue. Though the government now seems serious about the matter, it lacks the intent," said BJP MLA Jayant Sarangi.

However, Government Chief Whip Pramila Mallick said that the government's focus is now on giving justice to people belonging to all sections in the State. "The government will give justice to the OBCs," said Mallick.

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