The Maratha reservation issue was more of a politically motivated agenda than the actual issue of the source of the facility. The Maratha reservation of 12 and 13 per cent in education and jobs had amplified the overall reservation ceiling to 64 per cent and 65 per cent, respectively.
The disadvantage of the reservation including Maratha quota, the total reservation in the Maharashtra caste wise is restored to 52 per cent — Scheduled Castes 13 per cent, Scheduled Tribes 7 per cent, OBC 19 per cent, Special Backward Category 2 per cent, Vimukta Jati 3 per cent, Nomadic Tribes B 2.5 per cent, Nomadic Tribes C Dhangar 3.5 per cent, Nomadic tribe D Vanjari 2 per cent.
Nevertheless, the politics, the question, which is being debated, is why did the apex court not uphold SEBC, created as a separate category to accommodate Marathas with unanimous consent from the state and legislative assemblies. The legal and constitutional challenges to the Maratha reservation will not go recognised.
In November 2018, the Maratha community was given the reservation under the Maharashtra State Socially and Educational Backward Act. The special act was endorsed by Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission and approved in both the assembly and council. The prominence of legislation was to give reservation under SEBC, a legal and constitutional cogency. The legislation proposed by the then BJP-Sena government got undisputed support from then opposition parties Congress and NCP.
The Supreme Court’s decision on Wednesday to strike down the Maratha reservation puts the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in a tough spot as the opposition BJP is sure to project this as the ruling coalition’s fiasco to protect legislation passed in the state Assembly and council.
On August 9, 2016 Marathas under the banner of Maratha Kranti Morcha came together at Aurangabad to protest the rape and killing of a 15-year-old girl in Kopardi village of Ahmednagar district in Maharashtra. Although Kopardi was the trigger, the Maratha alliance, leading to 58 silent, but massive, rallies across the state between 2016-17, was centred on reservation for the community in government jobs and educational institutions.
Apart from it, the organisation demanded justice for the Kopardi girl and sternest punishment to perpetrators of the crime and loan waiver for farmers among other things. The massive public turnout at the apolitical rallies made inroads from cities to villages to taluka levels across Maharashtra. At the end of every rally, a ten-point charter of demands was presented to the district collector.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLCs formed a rumpus and walked out of the Legislative Council on the issue of Maratha reservation forcing the adjournment of the House. Maratha students were protesting at Azad Maidan, and BJP wanted to raise the question in the House but there were heavy counter-arguments and finally, they walked out in protest.
B onJP leaders held a protest outside the state Assembly on the second of the winter session, over various issues including women’s safety and Maratha reservation. Pravin Darekar alleged that the state government is running away from discussions and is facing strong opposition. The two-day winter session of the state legislature began in Mumbai on December 14, 2020.
Since then, the opposition was hell-bent on twisting this entire issue to their advantage. Maratha reservation is a serious issue and it needs to be addressed in time. If we want Marathi people and culture to survive and thrive then it is important that Maratha survive. Nowhere in India, a single caste makes up more than 30% of the state population.
Still not many outside Maharashtra knew (until this agitation) that this caste exists. For outsiders, Maratha is the same as Marathi, Maratha=Marathi. Yadav’s with just a single-digit population has been dominant in UP and Bihar. But despite such a huge population of Marathas, casteism is not dominant here like UP and Bihar because of the tolerant nature of people.
Maratha for namesake is one community. But it is made of so many social layers from ultra-rich political families to dirt poor laborers who just earn for the day. 52 per cent is reserved which leaves 48 per cent open and it is crowded with progressive people like Brahmins, the business class who can afford tuition, outsiders who are mostly educated people, leaving very little space for Marathas.
The systems of reservation of India are a form of positive discrimination. It follows from the concept of equality of opportunity as enshrined in the Constitution of India. Reservation is the result of laws, guidelines, and administrative action by the different levels of governments in India, and includes reserved or exclusive access to seats in the different legislatures, to government jobs, and enrolment in higher educational institutions.
The target groups are identified based on criteria such as gender, caste, tribe, and linguistic minority status. It is the process of facilitating a person in education, scholarship, jobs, and promotion who has category certificates. Reservation is a form of quota-based affirmative action. Constitutional laws, statutory laws, and local rules and regulations govern reservation. Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Other Backward Classes (OBC), and in some states Backward Classes among Muslims under a category called BC(M), are the primary beneficiaries of the reservation policies under the Constitution – with the object of ensuring a level playing field.
When BJP came to power in 2015, they accused Maratha leaders in the Congress and NCP of orchestrating protests to derail its government’s investigation into several scams, now when BJP is in opposition, they are using the same issue to their advantage and trying to create unrest for Maha Vikas Aghadi. Maratha reservation has become a tool to counter each other in political corridors but no one wants to find a solution.