The NCP had asked the BJP to clarify its stand over the Maratha-Muslim reservation issue.
The BJP which had won the trust vote after it was bailed out by the NCP during voice vote has already started bending before it. The state government has decided to challenge the Bombay High Court’s decision to stay the 16 per cent reservation granted to Marathas in public service and educational institutions by the outgoing Democratic Front government in Supreme Court. According to sources, the government change of stand on quotas is due to the pressure imposed by NCP leaders. The NCP had criticised the government’s stand on Maratha reservations.
“This government did not present the case in a proper manner in HC,” NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said.
“The ruling highlights the failure on part of the new regime to protect the quota decision of the Congress-NCP government,” he added.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis who has taken a pro-quota stand said, “The state government is fully supportive of Maratha quota. We will appeal in SC on the HC ruling. We will take measures to ensure that the quota remains.”
“If the court has pointed out any discrepancy in law, we will remove any lacunae in law during the winter session of the State Legislature in Nagpur,” the chief minister said.
Petitioner and former Journalist Ketan Tirodkar said, “Since Marathas’ are forward community and possesses enough wealth and reservation provided to this community was unjustified.
When AV asked Tirodkar only handful of Marathas’ are rich and remaining are under privileged and poor and whether he had created a roadblock in their progress he replied, “I agree that I have hampered their progress but they won’t derive any benefit out of it. Dalit leaders and bureaucrats are rich but the community remains backward. You can witness that on Mahaparinirvan Diwas on 6th December every year. Thus only leaders and bureaucrats will prosper through reservation but the community will remain backward.”
When asked whether he will file a petition with the Supreme Court as Maharashtra Government is planning to approach the apex court in this matter he said, “I am yet to take a decision in this regard.”
The Prithviraj Chavan government went ahead with the decision after Lok Sabha results showed the Marathas – they constitute 32% of the state’s population – and Muslims (10.6%) largely deserted the Congress-NCP that they had traditionally supported.
While the NCP won four of the 48 parliamentary seats, the Congress managed only two.
Earlier the BJP had objected to reservation on religious grounds for Muslims while supporting the reservation for the Maratha community.
The party had termed the decision to provide reservation for Muslims as “politically motivated” and “unconstitutional”. Vinod Tawde and Eknath Khadse had said that there was no provision in the Constitution for religion-based reservation.
They said the government had “fooled” the Maratha community by whittling down 20% reservation recommended by the Rane committee to 16%.
The Bombay High Court on Friday cancelled the previous Congress-NCP government’s decision of giving 16 percent reservation for Marathas in jobs and educational institutions in Maharashtra.
The High Court’s order comes on a petition challenging the measure, terming it as a “fraud” on the Constitution.
Senior advocate Pradeep Sancheti, appearing for Youth for Equality, referred to the Supreme Court’s guidelines on reservations which said it cannot exceed 50 per cent of the total seats. He also contended that it cannot be granted on the basis of religion.
Sancheti said the state government had not provided comparative data about population and backwardness of Muslims and Marathas vis-a-vis other communities.