OBC Quota Stir: Bhim Army Chief Chandrashekhar Azad, Others Detained in Bhopal

OBC Reservation Cauldron Simmers Again as Mahasangh Hints at 3rd Front Ahead of 2023 Polls


Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad and several other people were detained at the Bhopal airport amid protest in Madhya Pradesh’s capital over reservation for Other Backward Classes. They have also hinted at a third political front comprising Other Backward Castes, Scheduled Castes, and Scheduled Tribes ahead of the 2023 Madhya Pradesh assembly elections. The protesters have been demanding a 27% reservation for OBCs.

The Shivraj government had thwarted the mega show planned by the backward classes on Sunday by putting several leaders under house arrest and dispersing protesters who had gathered at city outskirts. Leaders who had gathered at the old Mla quarters with a plan to proceed towards the chief minister’s house were arrested. Meanwhile, the roads leading to the chief minister’s residence were closed down for the day and buses and trains arriving in Bhopal were being checked to assess the presence of protesters.

Meanwhile, Azad is still at the airport on Monday and wasn’t allowed to enter the city limits. Sources said he will return from the city at 10 pm. OBC leaders have alleged that they were beaten up by the police and they snatched their cellphones.

Azad who had arrived in the city for the protest claimed that Bhim Army and Jai Adivasi Yuva Shakti (JAYS) were allies. JAYS is a tribal outfit led by national convener Dr Hiralal Alawa who had contested assembly polls on Congress ticket in 2018 and won the seat. The outfit claimed presence in several states and also had extended support to the OBC stir.

The body also staged protests in many districts over the OBC issue and JAYS state head Antim Mujalda said the Centre isn’t willing to implement OBC quota in local body polls unless states complete the triple test before the court. This requires formation of a commission which will prepare a report on the backwardness of the OBCs which will be used to fix OBC quota in local body polls, he added.

Meanwhile, OBC Mahasabha too has called for a third front and the general secretary Tulsiram Patel on Sunday said that the mahasangh will contest assembly polls under a third front. He alleged that MP-MLAs were not extending any support to the OBC quota issue and were only seeking votes from the community.

We were planning to meet the Chief Minister and brief him about our demands but the police put our leaders under house arrest on Saturday and workers were sent to police stations, Patel added. The state government pointed fingers at Congress party and stated that the opposition is allying with several organisations to disturb the atmosphere in the state.

Senior minister Bhupendra Singh claimed that the state government has appointed senior lawyer Harish Salve for presenting the OBC issue in the Supreme Court. And the apex court will take up the issue in panchayat polls as part of a pending appeal of the Shivraj government on Monday. We are seeking four months-time for assessing OBC’s social-economic condition, said the minister.

Congress on contrary accused the BJP government of cheating the OBCs.

MLA Kamleshwar Patel and former MLA Ramniwas Rawat in a press briefing slammed the state government for acting against OBC leaders who were planning a peaceful protest in the city.

However, the BJP is also trying to counter claims of being anti-OBC by propagating that it already has implemented a 27% OBC quota in government jobs also alleging that the Congress govt under Kamal Nath hadn’t offered jobs under 27% OBC quota in its tenure. OBC constitutes around 50% of the electorate in Madhya Pradesh and literally hold the key to electoral wins in the state.

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