Mrunal Manmay Dash

Following the release of the final list of candidates who will contest the three tier Panchayat polls in Odisha, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) brought forth the issue of OBC candidature once again on Thursday.

Accusing the BJD-led Odisha government of largely ignoring the Other Backward Class (OBC) in the election, Suratha Biswal, president of the BJP OBC Morcha in Odisha, said that the ruling party had earlier promised to allot 40 percent seats to the OBCs, “But it is still unclear whether they have delivered on their promise or not.”

“As far as the BJP is concerned, I can assure that our party has given chance to OBCs in 50 percent of seats in Zilla Parishads,” said Biswal.

He also accused the State government of cheating the OBC community by not doing enough to provide them reservations in the Panchayat polls.”I demand the government to not repeat this mistake in the civic polls,” warned Biswal.

Similarly, Congress MLA, Suresh Routray also accused the State government of neglecting the interests of the backward class.

Speaking to reporters, Routray said, “Both the BJD and BJP are resorting to lies for votes. Their promises are only hogwash.”

“We have given tickets to OBC candidates in 58 percent of ZP seats,” claimed Routray.

Earlier in December last year, the BJP had alleged that the Odisha government should have moved to the Supreme Court after the Orissa High Court rejected its plea for OBC reservation in Panchayat elections. But it did not. “The government wants to keep the OBCs away from the Panchayat polls by showing the High Court’s 50 percent reservation rule,” the BJP had stated earlier.

It is pertinent to mention here that the cap on total reservation has been marked by the Supreme Court at 50 percent.

Meanwhile the State Election Commission (SEC) has declared party-wise breakup of Zilla Parishad candidates in Odisha.

There are 3407 candidates in fray for total 852 zones, out of which 851 are contesting on BJD ticket, 848 from BJP, 836 from Congress, 159 from BSP, 38 from CPI, 72 from CPI(M), 32 from AAP, 12 from AJSU, 47 from JMM, 214 others and 298 candidates are fighting independently.

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