The Maratha community, that demands a reservation, threatened to create a disruption at the Ashadi Ekadashi Puja in Pandharpur if the Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis performs the ritual. Following the threats received from the Maratha Kranti Morcha, Fadnavis, in the view of the safety of lakhs of devotees gathered, decided to remain absent from the occasion on July 23.
Maratha Kranti Morcha State coordinator Ankush Kadam asserted, “We acknowledge or understand that it is a the judicial matter. During a protest held earlier by Maratha Kranti Morcha, Chief Minister made a lot of promises and the protest was terminated. The government is yet to fulfil promises like the construction of a hostel for Maratha students and concession in college fees. So, this government is clearly misleading our community. We will handle our agitation aggressively. We support the current protest going on in Maharashtra. Either government can stop recruitment or grant reservation first.”
Recently, Fadnavis had informed the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly that 16 per cent of the government jobs would be reserved for the Marathas and filled up as backlog, whenever the Bombay High Court accepts the quota for the Marathas. Although, the High Court has given the government a deadline of July 31 to submit the data of Maratha community. However, the eager Maratha community wants the government to immediately grant reservation to them. Is it rational on the part of the community to come to blows to push for their demands?
BJP spokesperson Madhu Chavan commented, “As per the Court’s order, we have established a committee and will present the data to the court soon. The threat issued to the CM to not conduct the Puja was unfortunate. We are waiting for the court’s verdict on Chief Minister’s decision relating to 16 per cent reservation in government jobs as it is a judicial matter. Our government is taking a positive stand for the Maratha reservation.”
In the year 1997, Shiv Sena leader Manohar Joshi and the then chief minister of the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition, was forced to cancel his Pandharpur worship after Dalit groups threatened to protest in the wake of the Ramabai Nagar clashes.
Sanjay Kokare, President of OBC NT Party of India stated, “If we watch the recent politics on Maratha reservation they are doing “OBC karan of Maratha Community”. In order to handle the pressure, the government is trying to violate the Constitution. In 1991, 16 per cent reservation suggested by the Narayan Rane committee was rejected by the court before and the 10 per cent during Narasimha Rao government was also rejected. So, if they want separate reservation than SC, ST, OBC, there is a need for Constitutional amendment. Fadnavis’ decision of granting 16 per cent reservation was taken due to pressure. We are not against Maratha Reservation but it should not affect our rights.”
According to the reports, Fadnavis had said that despite being aware of the legal aspects of the Maratha reservation issue and the fact that only the Bombay High Court has the power to decide on it, some parties and individuals are deliberately trying to incite the Maratha community against the government.
MLC and Shiv Sena spokesperson Manisha Kayande said, “Our stand is very clear, the one who really needs reservation should be granted the same. Reservation should be based on the economic basis rather than on caste, creed and religion. It would be interesting to see the CM’s stand. Fadnavis did not give any detailed explanation on the 16 per cent reservation in government jobs which is not in their hands. The CM had taken a right decision to not attend puja at Pandharpur.”
The political experts believe that Fadnavis might be misleading Marathas over reserving posts for the job aspirants from the community in the proposed mega recruitment drive. The warring groups and the Opposition, however, are holding him responsible for breaking a custom and alleged that his false assurances on the reservation were responsible for this situation.
Author and retired Professor Dr Sadanand More commented, “The government is answerable to the recommendation of committee report of reservation. 16 per cent reservation is conditional and hypothetical but Maratha community should get the reservation.”
Considering the Ashadi Ekadashi Puja as the one of the most important occasion for the Maharashtrians, the absence of CM Devendra Fadnavis from the Puja in the name of the threat has brought the people of Maratha community in a perplexed situation (as the BJP is known for boasting the flag about their Hindutva agenda) and has casted doubts on the word of the government.