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BJD announces to field 33% OBC candidates in three-tier panchayat polls

A BJD delegation from both the lower and upper house had met Home Minister Amit Shah today at his parliament chamber and underscored the need for the caste-based census in Odisha.

SNS | Bhubaneswar |

Playing the caste card to the hilt, the ruling Biju Janata Dal on Friday announced that the regional party will field candidates from the Other Backward Castes (OBC) for 27 percent of seats in the forthcoming three-tier panchayat elections in Odisha.

The announcement made by BJD is being perceived by analysts as a political masterstroke by the regional party’s chief and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who rode to power for a record fifth term in office in 2019.

The Agriculture and Farmer Empowerment Minister Arun Kumar Sahoo and Co-operation Minister Ranendra Pratap Swain informed the BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik’s decision on the fielding of 27% seats to OBC candidates.

“It is a significant day for the people of Odisha, particularly for those who have been neglected. The BJD has decided to reserve 27 percent of its tickets for SEBC candidates in Panchayat or any other elections in the State,” said Minister Ranendra Pratap Swain.

With this, BJD has become the first political party in the country to extend reservations to SEBC candidates. BJD’s move will certainly pave the way to ensure social justice as party MPs have been fighting for a long for the caste-based census, he said, adding that that other political parties in the state should also give proportionate party tickets to OBCs.

The BJD had fielded 33 percent of women candidates in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls though there is no such provision for women quota in elections. The regional party led by five-time chief minister Naveen Patnaik has been persistently voicing the demand for 33 percent reservation of seats for the women in the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections.

Ahead of today’s announcement, the BJD on Wednesday pressed forth the demand for the caste-based census for identifying and enumerating the Socially and Educationally Backward Communities (SEBC) and Other Backward Class and increasing the reservation beyond the 50% ceiling by enacting central legislation.

A BJD delegation from both the lower and upper house had met Home Minister Amit Shah today at his parliament chamber and underscored the need for the caste-based census in Odisha.

It is pertinent to note here that the State government had already accorded approval to the proposal on the survey of social and educational conditions of backward classes. The Odisha State Commission for Backward Classes has also been constituted to espouse the cause of backward classes.

The BJD’s move in effecting 27% OBC reservation in party tickets for the forthcoming three-tier panchayat polls has left the opposition in a quandary as political analysts widely believe that the BJD chief’s move may act to the electoral advantage of the regional party.

The state government is unable to reserve seats for OBCs in education and jobs due to the legal hurdle like the 50 percent reservation ceiling by the court. Our supreme leader has however decided to start the quota from within the party itself, minister Sahoo told reporters here today.

Both the ministers also iterated the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2008 has provision for reservation of posts and services for OBCs. However, the quota has not been implemented as the Census is as yet not on the basis of Caste, making it difficult for the government to arrive at an accurate percentage of the OBC population in the state.