Pradeep Singh

Following the Orissa High Court's ruling that there will be no reservation for backward classes in the upcoming three-tier Panchayat elections to comply with the Supreme Court directions, the reservation draft list has been released. However, political slugfest over the release of the list without quota for backward classes has heated up the State politics.

The ruling BJD had earlier announced that 27 per cent seats will be reserved for backward classes in the Panchayat polls. Later, the party pledged 40 per cent tickets to OBC candidates in Panchayat and Municipal elections. But this has not gone down well with the Opposition parties which termed the 40 per cent reservation as vote bank politics.

The BJP alleged that the BJD announced to give preference to OBC candidates in the forthcoming polls only to lure the community. "The same government which had in August announced 27 per cent reservation to OBC in Panchayat polls, later reduced it to 12 per cent. The BJD government seems to be in a dilemma by making such confusing announcements," said BJP OBC Morcha president, Surath Biswal.

Congress has demanded to announce the reservation details ahead of Panchayat elections. "Odisha government should immediately convene the State Assembly for discussion," said senior Congress leader Ganeswar Behera adding that the party will move court if the reservation for the upcoming polls is not done accordingly.

Meanwhile, Panchayati Raj Minister Pratap Jena said that the notification related to the Zilla Parishad president reservation has already been released and several other notifications will be released soon. "We will submit a detailed report to the Election Commission and subsequently it will announce dates for the Panchayat elections in the State," said Jena.

The SC had earlier stayed OBC reservations in local bodies elections in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh while stating that "triple test" needs to be followed for OBC quota. Though review petition has been filed by Madhya Pradesh over the ruling and the apex court's hearing is pending, experts believe that the SC decision will not affect the panchayat polls in Odisha.

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