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Nitesh Kumar Sahoo

Odisha's Panchayati Raj Minister Pratap Jena on Thursday said that the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) will give preference to OBCs during the selection of candidates for the upcoming Panchayat polls.

The Panchayati Raj Minister said, "As per the Supreme Court order, no particular reservation can be accorded to OBCs. So, going by the court’s order, we cannot make provisions for reservation for OBCs. However, we will give preference to OBCs during the candidate selection process."

Jena said Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had announced that OBC candidates will be given preference even though the number of seats for the reserved category has been reduced. 

It is pertinent to mention here that earlier in November, the Odisha government had announced to reduce the reservation of seats for backward class in the upcoming three-tier Panchayat elections that drew criticism from Opposition parties.

As per the list released by the SEC, no seat has been reserved for backward class in 14 districts of the State. Similarly, there is only one seat reserved for the backward class in Boudh district while two seats are reserved for the category in Subarnapur district.

The seats for OBC have not been reserved in many districts where Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act, 1996 has been enforced. Similarly, the reservation has also declined in Jharsuguda and Nuapada though those don't come under the category of PESA or partial PESA districts.

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