Ramakanta Biswas

Amid the hue and cry over lack of reservation for backward classes in the upcoming three-tier Panchayat elections in Odisha, the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) on Saturday announced to provide 40 per cent tickets to candidates belonging to the communities in the rural polls.

Apart from the rural polls, the regional party has also decided to field 40 per cent OBC candidates in the municipal (civic body) elections. Terming its decision ‘historic’, the party passed a resolution in the regard in its executive meeting today.

Pranab Prakash Das, the organisational secretary of the party, moved the resolution which was unanimously supported. Subsequently, the resolution was sent to the party president and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. The CM has also given his nod, paving way for 40 per cent seats for OBC in the Panchayat and municipal elections.

The party said it has requested the Centre to give fair justice to the OBCs after the reservation was withdrawn for the communities across the country on a Supreme Court verdict. The party said it will support whatever decision the Centre takes in that regard.

BJD general secretary Arun Sahoo said, “The BJD in its State executive meeting has taken the decision to provide tickets to 40 per cent OBC candidates and the resolution was approved by the party supremo and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.”

Meanwhile, the Opposition parties hit out at the BJD over its stand on the reservation of seats for OBC in the Panchayat elections.

“OBCs make up for 54 percent of the total population of the State. Instead of playing politics, can the State government file a review petition in the Supreme Court on the verdict,” asked Surath Biswal, president of BJP OBC Morcha.

Congress OBC cell chief Gyana Beura said, “In the last Panchayat elections in the State, about 60 per cent candidates from OBC were elected. So there is no point on part of the BJD in bragging about providing 40 per cent seats to OBC.”

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