The Maharashtra unit of the BJP on Saturday held 'chakka jam' protest across the state to press for its demand of restoring reservation for the Other Backward Classes (OBC) in local governing bodies. The party had earlier announced that it would hold agitation at 1,000 locations across the state.
Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Devendra Fadnavis participated in a protest in his home district Nagpur, while Leader of Opposition in the Council Pravin Darekar took part in an agitation in Thane, due to which the road connecting the city with Mumbai got blocked for some time. Former minister Pankaja Munde, who led a protest in Pune, said if the BJP’s demand are not met, the party will launch bigger protests in future.
The Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in the state has failed to retain political reservation for the OBCs, she alleged.
"The government failed to get OBC reservation, which is necessary for the community's uplift,” she said.
Munde alleged that the state government kept deferring various elections, including those in the cooperative sector, when the case regarding the OBC reservation was pending in the court, and it was only after the court scrapped the quota, the elections were announced.
"We are demanding that the OBC reservation be restored and till then no elections should be held. We want the government to approach the Election Commission along with us with a demand to postpone elections," she said.
"If the elections are held without the OBC reservation, then we will resort to bigger protests. This ‘chakka jam’ protest is just a trailer," she added.
Another BJP leader and former state minister Girish Mahajan and MLA Mangal Prabhat Lodha held a protest outside Mantralaya, the state secretariat in Mumbai, over the issue.
The BJP-Shiv Sena government in 2019 had allotted political reservation to OBCs in local governing bodies, but in March this year, the Supreme Court had read it down.
The BJP has alleged that the case was lost only because of the inaction of the Shiv Sena-led MVA government, in which NCP and Congress are partners.
The State Election Commission has announced bypolls at Dhule, Nandurbar, Washim, Akola and Nagpur districts, and there are 85 seats of Zilla Parishad and 144 panchayat samiti seats for which elections is going to be held. The BJP on Friday demanded that the state government approach the Supreme Court immediately requesting a postponement of the ZP bypolls in five districts.
The Supreme Court had in its March 4 order said that reservation in favour of OBCs in concerned local bodies in Maharashtra cannot exceed aggregate 50 per cent of the total seats reserved for Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and OBCs taken together.
The apex court, while reading down section 12(2)(c) of the Maharashtra Zilla Parishads and Panchayat Samitis Act 1961, which provided 27 per cent reservation for persons belonging to backward class, also quashed the notifications issued by the state election commission in 2018 and 2020 providing reservation exceeding 50 per cent in local bodies of some districts.