PATNA: Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar came under sharp attack of the opposition once again on Tuesday after the Patna high court ruled as 'illegal' the reservation of seats for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and Extremely Backward Classes (EBCs) in urban local bodies election.
A division bench of the high court comprising chief justice Sanjay Karol and justice S Kumar declared as 'illegal' reservation of seats for OBCs and EBCs and directed the state election commission to hold the polls 'only by immediately re-notifying the seats reserved for OBCs, treating them as general category
The order came barely a week before the local bodies elections are scheduled on October 10. The candidates have started campaigning in their respective areas with election symbols allotted to them by the commission. Around 1.14 crore electors were expected to exercise their franchise in two phases i.e on October 10 and 20, respectively.
Former deputy chief minister and BJP Rajya Sabha member Sushil Kumar Modi blamed the chief minister Nitish Kumar for the mess. “Had the state government constituted a dedicated commission in the wake of Supreme Court's order, such situation would not have arisen ahead of the urban bodies elections,” he added.
He also took a dig at some JD(U) leaders for their attempt to divert the attention of the people on the issue. “Caste based count and ensuring reservation for OBCs and EBCs in the local bodies elections are two separate things,” he clarified.
The JD(U), on the other hand, claimed that the delay in conducting caste count in the state was among the factors that led to court's order on Tuesday. JD(U) parliamentary board chairman Upendra Kushwaha tweeted, “It is unfortunate.”
Kushwaha, who is considered close to Nitish Kumar, said that the HC's order was a part of the conspiracy of the union government and the BJP. “Had the union government led by PM Narendra Modi conceded the demand of caste census and fulfilled constitutional provisions, the situation would not have arisen,” he said.
Kushwaha also threatened to launch agitation to expose the conspiracy the union government and the BJP on the issue. The court, while reserving its verdict on September 29, had said that the elections shall be subject to the outcome of the present petition and told the state election commission that it may defer the first phase of the elections should it find it “prudent” to do so.
Following the HC’s September 29 observations, the SEC had issued a circular on September 30 to all district magistrates concerned who were asked to keep the contestants in the loop regarding the developments.