Members of the Odisha Adivasi Kalyan Sangha, a tribal organization, staged a protest and held a meeting outside the office of the Bolangir district collector against the reduction of their quota in panchayat elections. The marginalized community voiced their displeasure over reserving seats for other backward classes (OBCs)in the upcoming three-tier polls in the state. The protesting community alleged that their reservations have been sidelined for the forthcoming elections and demanded immediate implementation of reservation rules for the position of Block Chairman and Sarpanch as per Article 243D of the Indian Constitution.
'No Sarpanch Positions For STs This Year'
Niranjan Bishi, the General Secretary of Paschim Odisha Adivasi Mahasangh said, "There are no Sarpanch and Block Chairman positions for the STs in the elections this year. We demand to implement the reservation for the STs according to population", Odisha TV reported. While speaking on the issue, Chanchal Rana, the district collector of Bolangir District, said that they would consider the grievance as per the guidelines of the department and the provisions of reservation in the Panchayat Samiti Act. The Collector further said that their demands should be accepted if the protestors warranted merit.
Interestingly, members from the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) said that not even a single seat was reserved for the Adivasi or OBC category for Sarpanch and Samiti members' positions in some blocks of the Balasore district. Moreover, the Party members championed equal representation for all communities in the 2022 Panchayat Elections. Nearly 54 per cent of the state's population belongs to people from backward communities.
While Article 243 speaks about the elections and the functioning of the Gram Sabha, Article 243D provides reservations to the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in every Panchayat. The sub-section of Article 243 looks after the number of reserved seats in the state legislative assembly.