New Delhi: Eyeing the votebank of the Other Backward Classes (OBC) ahead of the upcoming Assembly polls in five states, the government is mulling to provide a 27 percent reservation to OBC in allotment of petrol pumps.

With the Election Commission keeping a strict vigil, the announcement is likely to be made soon after the elections.

Presently, 25 percent of the sites for new petrol pumps are reserved for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).

According to the officials of the Petroleum Ministry, the new guidelines are being formulated in this regard. The government is now planning to bring a change in the existing provision of reservation for the SC and STs.

A senior official informed, “The quota for SCs/STs would be reduced to 22.5 percent from 25 percent to enable 27 percent reservation for the OBCs. The remaining 50 percent of the pumps and dealerships would be allotted to open or general category candidates”.

He added, 33 percent of the locations in each category will be reserved for women belonging to that category.

In addition, physically handicapped, paramilitary/police and defence personnel, freedom fighters and outstanding sports persons would also get reservation in each of the three categories -- SC/ST, OBC and General, he said.

The official said the new guidelines are likely to be announced after completion of Assembly elections in five states.

It is to be noted  that the Ministry has kept the policy under wraps while the election campaigns of various parties on similar issues are in full swing.

Just two days before the announcement of the elections by the Election Commission, the Centre had declared to provide 4.5 percent reservation for the minorities within the 27 percent OBC quota.

While the Congress is capitalizing on the minority quota as its major achievement ahead of the polls, the BJP is encashing the same to provoke the OBCs on the issue.

With the allotment of petrol pumps, the Congress plans to convince the miffed OBCs and had also made a provision for them in the Lokpal as well. 

(JPN/Bureau)