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40 BJP leaders held in Mumbai for protest seeking OBC reservation in polls

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The Mumbai police on Wednesday detained nearly 40 BJP workers, including senior party leaders Chandrakant Patil, Pravin Darekar and Sudhir Mungantiwar, while they were protesting outside the party office near the state secretariat, seeking reservation for the OBCs in elections.

The detained BJP workers were taken to the Azad Maidan in south Mumbai and later released, an official said.

Earlier, some BJP workers started the protest around 11.30 am outside their party office near the Maharashtra secretariat ‘Mantralaya’ in south Mumbai, demanding reservation for the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in elections.

As the protesters, along with some 250 party workers, were planning to go to Mantralaya to press for their demands, the Marine Drive police intervened and started taking them into the police vans, the official said.

At least 40 protesters, including Leader of Opposition in state Legislative Council Pravin Darekar, state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil and former minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, were detained.

They were released after being taken to the Azad Maidan, the official said.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole termed the protest as a political stunt and said the opposition party should protest outside the prime minister’s office instead.

“The BJP’s march to Mantralaya is nothing but hypocrisy. The fact is that the process of terminating the OBC reservation in the state had started under the BJP government led by Devendra Fadnavis and the Central government also supported it. So, the BJP has no right to speak on OBC reservation,” Patole said.

“It is the agenda of the BJP and its parent organisation RSS to put an end to reservations and the march to Mantralaya was just a political stunt,” he said.

The Congress leader lashed out at BJP leaders asking them to protest outside the Prime Minister’s office if they are so concerned about the OBC reservation.

Steps to end the reservation for OBCs were taken in 2017. The Fadnavis government had postponed the Nagpur Zilla Parishad elections by issuing a simple circular and the issue became complicated, he claimed.

The Fadnavis government did not take any action to save the OBC reservation while the case went to court. It was asleep for five years and now the BJP is trying to push the blame on to the MVA government for it, he said.

“The Congress has always supported the OBCs and we have demanded that elections should not be held without the political reservation for the community and the MVA government is also making efforts for this,” Patole said.

He further claimed that during his tenure as a Speaker of the state Assembly, he passed a resolution seeking a caste-based census, but the Centre did not take a decision on it.

The BJP had also promised reservation for the Dhangar community in the first cabinet meeting and then kept them waiting for five years, the Congress leader claimed, accusing the BJP of being the real killer of the OBCs’ political reservation.

The Supreme Court earlier this year rejected the Maharashtra State Backward Classes Commission’s interim report recommending the restoration of 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in the local body polls. The court also asked the state government and the SEC not to act on the commission’s recommendations.

The Supreme Court had last year stayed the 27 per cent quota for OBCs in local body polls. It had asked the government to set up a commission to conduct empirical inquiry into the nature and implications of backwardness and specify the proportion of reservation required.

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