Bangalore: The State Government, in view of the outcry by Opposition parties against the reduction of seats for other backward classes (OBCs) in zilla panchayats, has decided to issue another ordinance to restore the status quo ante on the number of seats set apart for them.
A meeting of the Cabinet on Tuesday decided to submit the ordinance to Governor H.R. Bhardwaj for approval, yielding to the demand of the Opposition, which has been crying foul about the move. The earlier ordinance was promulgated about a month ago, based on which the State Election Commission issued a notification on Monday highlighting the reservation of seats set apart for various categories: Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, OBCs and women.
Briefing presspersons on the decisions taken at the Cabinet meeting, Minister for Higher Education V.S. Acharya and Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs S. Suresh Kumar said the Government would opt for a fresh ordinance on Wednesday to maintain the existing reservation for OBCs (before the October 4, 2010 ordinance was issued). Consequently, the Karnataka Panchayat Raj Act will be amended in the next session of the State legislature.
What has upset the Opposition parties is the drastic reduction in the number of seats set apart for OBCs in some zilla panchayats. For instance, in the Raichur and Chitradurga zilla panchayats, the number of seats for OBCs had been reduced from 10 to two. In all, the ordinance had resulted in the number of seats for OBCs declining from 334 to 223, roughly working out to a 30 per cent reduction.
The existing ordinance and the notification issued by the State Election Commission based on it will be operative till the Governor decides to promulgate the fresh ordinance.
Dr. Acharya and Mr. Kumar said that keeping in mind the Supreme Court's order to limit the reservation to 50 per cent (for OBCs, SCs, and STs) the Government issued the first ordinance. But this had reduced the number of seats for OBCs. Apart from amending the Karnataka Panchayat Raj Act, the Government, if need be, would approach the Supreme Court to safeguard the interest of the OBCs, the Ministers said.
The State Election Commission on Monday issued a notification prescribing ward-wise reservation for various categories for the forthcoming zilla panchayat elections. The commission earlier issued a notification on October 18 determining the total number of seats reserved for different categories in each of the zilla and taluk panchayats.
Several leaders of the backward class, including president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee G. Parameshwar, have taken exception to the reservation matrix, which has reduced the total number of seats reserved for the backward classes. With the Government deciding to opt for another ordinance to rectify the lapse, the preparations for the panchayat elections are likely to be delayed.