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Pradeep Pattanayak

The Odisha government’s new reservation list for different posts of PRIs like Sarpanch, Panchayat Samiti and Zilla Parishad members and chairmen of Blocks and Zilla Parishads will boomerang on the BJD, Opposition parties claimed on Wednesday. 

Quashing the old reservation list, the BJD-led government recently issued a new list. The new list with several changes is said to prove costly for the ruling BJD. This is because the changes in the reservation list has left many aspirants dejected. 
Chandradeipur Panchayat under Salepur block in Cuttack district and Nahar Panchayat under Bhogarai Block in Balasore district are good cases to drive home the point.

In the old list, the Sarpanch post of Chandradeipur Panchayat was reserved for general category candidates. In the new list, the same post is earmarked for woman belonging to the Scheduled  caste. Likewise, the first list had reserved the Samiti member post of Nahar Panchayat for OBC category. Now, the post has been reserved for Scheduled Tribe woman candidate. 
The changes brought out in the new list have led to dissatisfaction among aspirants across the State. 

“This new list has sparked resentment among the aspirants. We will take up the matter with the district Collector. I demand to reserve the Sarpanch post of Chandradeipur Panchayat for general category as was in the previous list,” observed Aaradhana Panda, an aspirant. 

Expressing his concern, another aspirant, Sushant Ghosh said his desire to serve people has dashed to the ground after the publication of the new list. “I urge the government to make changes and reserve the Samiti member post of Nahar Panchayat for OBC,” Ghosh said. 

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress have opined that the BJD will pay heavily for making changes in the list. 
After publication of the first list, the aspirants had already started door-to-door campaigning. Some had even put up posters and banners in their localities. 
“The previous list was correct. The latest list will be counterproductive for the BJD. There are posters of aspirants showing then along with Naveen Patnaik everywhere. Now, they are losing faces,” observed senior Congress leader Suresh Kumar Routray. 

“There are no reservations for Scheduled Tribes for Sarpanch posts. Similarly, Block chairman posts are not reserved for Scheduled Tribe. Resentment is brewing over this. The ST/SC people will teach a befitting lesson to the ruling party in the coming days,” maintained MLA (BJP) Mukesh Mahaling. 

In her reply to the allegations leveled by the Opposition parties, BJD MLA Pramila Mallick said those were baseless. “There is no report of resentment among our aspiring candidates. We have candidates as per the new list and they will win elections with flying colours,” she asserted. 

The Bharatiya Janata Party has targeted the government after OBCs were left out from the reservation list. Over this, a delegation of the saffron party leaders on Wednesday met the Governor and handed over a memorandum. Similarly, the team also met the Odisha State Election Commission, demanding reservation for OBCs. Alleging that it amounts to an insult to OBCs who constitute 54 percent of the State's population, the party demanded that the elections be conducted only after making reservations for them. 

“The party is not mentioning about the OBC reservation in the coming three-tier Panchayat elections. We have requested the Odisha State Election Commission not to conduct the elections until there is OBC reservation,” said MLA (BJP) Lalitendu Bidyadhar Mohapatra. 

In reply, the BJD said the reservation list has been prepared as per the Orissa High Court’s directions. “The list has been prepared by strictly following the directions of the Orissa High Court. We all should follow it and act accordingly,” pointed out Minister for Science and Technology Ashok Chandra Panda.

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