Bhubaneswar: Senior BJP leader and Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan slammed the Odisha government for not taking necessary steps for the reservation of seats for OBC communities in the upcoming panchayat elections.
Citing recent Supreme Court orders, the Orissa high court had directed that there must be no reservation for backward classes in the forthcoming three-tier panchayat elections in the state. Following this, the BJD said that it would give preference to the OBC candidates for the rural poll.
Against this backdrop, Pradhan said the BJD's announcement of giving preference to OBC candidates in the upcoming panchayat polls is all but tokenism.
"The anti-OBC face of the Odisha government is evident from its lack of iron will in implementing the reservation quota for OBCs in local body elections," Pradhan said in a tweet.
He criticised the Odisha government for not showing any intent to pursue this matter logically.
The state government could also have approached the Supreme Court against the recent order of the high court, especially when its own SLP for reservation beyond 50 per cent limit is pending with the Supreme Court, he pointed out.
The government of Odisha must answer the people why it is against OBC reservations, he said.
Replying to Pradhan on Twitter, BJD leader Pranab Prakash Das said, "Bhai, you are union minister, elected to Rajya Sabha from Madhya Pradesh. For how many years was your party in power there? Why did you fail to ensure OBC reservation in MP? More so now, with the Supreme Court striking down MP's OBC reservation policy for polls."
Targeting the BJP government, which has been at the Centre for the past 7.5 years, Das asked, has the Centre ever given priority to OBC reservation?
"Why are you not bringing Central legislation for ensuring OBC reservation in India & filing a petition for this in the Supreme Court? Where is your commitment for OBCs?", the BJD leader asked.
Stating that the BJD is committed to giving 40 per cent OBC reservation in the panchayat poll tickets, Das said, "We might even go up to 50 per cent reservation. We will also publicly publish the list of these OBC candidates who have been provided reservations in BJD tickets. I appeal to you to do the same for BJP."