Jignesh Mevani, an independent MLA, and about nine Congress MLAs were suspended from the Gujarat Legislative Assembly for a day on Thursday, the final day of the session, after storming into the House well and shouting slogans for a debate on the OBC reservation.
Some of the MLAs were even forcibly removed from the House by marshals when they resisted leaving the House Well after being asked to by the speaker.
All of the remaining Congress MLAs staged a brief walkout following the suspension and eviction, but they soon returned to participate in the bill discussion.
Senior Congress MLA Baldevji Thakor abruptly asked that the House address the reservation quota for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in the panchayat bodies when the House was debating a bill pertaining to the Gujarat National Law University.
Jignesh Mevani hurried to the well when Speaker Nimaben Acharya rejected Thakor’s proposal. Thakor and a few other MLAs, such as Vikram Madam, Raghu Desai, and Vimal Chudasama, followed him.
With banners in hand, other party legislators yelled the slogans “We demand caste-based census” and “Give OBCs, 27 per cent reservation” as roughly 10 MLAs sat in the House well.
Got suspended for second consecutive day in the two-day monsoon session of Gujarat assembly. We wanted a discussion on caste based census for the welfare of SC/ST, OBC & minorities. Instead of having a discussion, we were suspended from the house for raising the issue. pic.twitter.com/6b9WM2BvvZ
— Jignesh Mevani (@jigneshmevani80) September 22, 2022
Rajendra Trivedi, Minister of Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), asked the speaker to punish the “unruly” Congress MLAs in response to the abrupt complaint by Congress.
Senior MLA Amit Chavda told reporters following the meeting that OBCs should be given a 27% quota in local panchayat councils because they make up more than 50% of the state’s population.
“We have learnt that officials are providing false data about the OBC population in the state. This will further eliminate OBCs from the electoral system. Thus, apart from the 27 per cent quota, we also demand a caste-based census before the quota is finalised. But the BJP government was not ready for a discussion in the Assembly on this very important issue,” Chavda alleged.
In order to determine the OBC quota for panchayat elections, the state’s BJP administration created a special commission in July to gather and examine data on the nature, and implications of backwardness in local government.
The panel was established to investigate the nature and impacts of backwardness in local governments in order to decide on reservations for OBCs. Earlier this month, delegations from the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress had filed representations to the panel.
According to the Gujarat Panchayats Act, 10% of the seats up for election in gram panchayats are set aside for members of the OBC community.