Municipal Reservations: Positive Disequilibrium

By Prabhakar Timble
05 October 2010 22:12 IST

Any new delimitation or reservation will create disequilibrium because it disturbs the status quo. The hue and cry raised by seating councillors, potential candidates and state level politicians over the reservations for the ensuing municipal polls is largely because of this discomfort. Some seating councillors have lost the eligibility to contest from the ward they represented. Calculations of some have gone awry.   They can smell the probable transfer of power to a new set of totally unheard persons.  Like school students sensing poor performance at examinations, they are blaming that the questions in the examinations are beyond the scope of syllabus.

The first test to determine the validity of reservations is to examine whether they are in accordance with law. Who will win and who will lose and to what extent the reservations provide a safe passage to the present incumbents in office is irrelevant. Our state level politicians are bogged with preserving the seats of their loyalists.

The one-third reservation of wards for women and the 12% reservation for SC/ST is an implementation of the constitutional guarantee under Article 243-T and the Goa Municipalities Act. The Goa Municipalities Act also provides for 19.5% reservation for “other backward classes”. As per the rulings of the Supreme Court the reservation for women comes under the ambit of horizontal protection and the other categories of protection is considered as promoting vertical equity. It is true that the total quantum of reservation should not exceed 50%. However, the vertical and horizontal reservation cannot be taken together to calculate the total quantum of reservation. So, as far as the quantum of reservation is concerned, the process is within the ambit of law.

The second test is to examine whether the proper procedure is followed in identifying the concerned wards. A perusal of the Constitutional provisions and the Goa Municipalities Act shows that the reservation of wards is to be done on rotation basis. The argument that the ward reserved for Schedule Tribes/OBC should have substantial tribal/OBC population respectively does not hold water since no ward would remain permanently attached. The system of rotation in local self-governing bodies provides an opportunity to all to show acceptance and tolerance for the protection provided to the different communities in the best interests of inclusive and participative governance. Reserving a specific ward permanently would deny opportunities to the other sections and would also promote “ghettoisation”.

As per the 2001 population census, the schedule caste population in Goa is 2% of the total population and hence no wards are reserved under this category. As per the same census, the Schedule Tribe population in Goa was 0.04% (566 to be precise). However, the situation changed after the demands of the Velip, Gouda & Kunbi communities materialised and they were notified as ST.

As we mature into a democracy, we need to understand that democratic governance should not become the rule of the forwarded classes formally baptized by the elections. Representative bodies at the local, state and national level should throw up men and women from all classes, strata and sections. The Indian Constitution and the State enactments provide for reservations because of the failure of our socio-political system to provide opportunities to all. Left to us, did we not ensure the non-representation of women in democratic bodies? Did we not make it an exclusive male domain? This was indirectly a cent per cent reservation for males sanctioned by society and political groups!!

Though elections to Municipal bodies are not contested on political party lines, the aspiring contestants are normally attached to political parties. The nervousness of the political parties and their workers is due to the fear that they may not be in a position to put worthy candidates in reserved wards. This is because of their failure to groom schedule tribes, women from OBC and women in general into political material to take charge of democratic institutions. Though, we profess democracy, our political culture is still feudal. Look at the feudal lords who adorn and dominate the Goa State legislature and call the shots in Cabinet. Look also at the comedy of Goan democracy that our political mechanism has not thrown persons of reasonable stature to give a semblance of an “electoral fight” to such lords.

I find nothing out of order in the present reservation for the municipal polls. However, subjectivity has definitely crept in the selection of wards in respect of schedule tribes and OBC. The invisible hand of the politician-minister for vested interests is clearly seen. I find no issue with the wards notified as reserved for women. Hence,   to restore the confidence of the people, all matters connected with elections including the power of reservation of wards should be given to the State Election Commission since the Directorate of Municipal Administration may be vulnerable to political bosses. The State Election Commission should be permanently headed by a non-official for people to perceive that the conduct of elections is fair and just. It does not speak well of the Governor of Goa that eleven Municipal Councils are going to the polls under the aegis of a senior bureaucrat from the state administration.

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Prabhakar Timble

Mr Prabhakar Timble is an educationist and a legal expert. He has served several educational institutions, especially as the Principal of Government College at Quepem, Kare College of Law in Madgao as well as couple of Management Institutes. He was also the State Election Commissioner of Goa.

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Previous Comments

Margao Muncipality Ward reservation fixing is a excellent planned sinister conspiracy by best partners CM Kamat and Vijay Sardessai (famous manipulator) to eliminate their rivals.

Friday 5pm DM declares the list, next 2 days holiday and Monday filing nomination. I strongly protest and condemn their dictatorial actions for their personal benefits.. I would have saluted them with highest esteem if they could have defeated their opposing candidates instead of denying them the right of contesting elections. It shows their cruelty and timidity. They should feel ashamed. To be in power these duo would trample on anybody at any time.

I was even shocked to read that my friend councillor Gonzaco Rebello has now become OBC, how and since when? 5yrs ago he was not. Vijay would answer much better than Rebello.

Moddgonvkars be aware of the realities that CM cannot do anything for Margao withouts faults/contraversy. May be because he was not elected by pure Moddgonvkars. Fatordakars should be alert to know that we have a wolf politician whom you"ll sent to jungle, has now comeback in sheep clothing.

- FILIPE DIAS, MARGAO GOA, (NOW DUBAI) | 06 th October 2010 01:51

 

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