The opposition Congress in Maharashtra on Tuesday demanded that the State Backward Class Commission’s report on Maratha quota issue be immediately tabled in the state Assembly.
On the second day of the Winter Session of the state Legislature, Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil said there is no clarity on the commission’s report.
The Maharashtra government on Sunday announced the Maratha community will be granted quota under a new category called ‘Socially and Educationally Backward Class’ (SEBC), as per the recommendation of the State Backward Class Commission.
The government is yet to decide the quantum of reservation, though the Marathas are seeking 16 per cent quota.
As the Lower House assembled for the day and Speaker Haribhau Bagade called for the Question Hour, Vikhe Patil asked whether the Maratha quota under the new category will be within the existing 52 per cent reservation in the state or over and above that limit.
“There should be clarity on the government’s stand and the report should have been tabled on the first day of the session on Monday,” the senior Congress leader said.
There is “tremendous unrest” among the Marathas, he claimed.
He said the Maratha community had organised 58 peaceful protest marches for the quota demand and nearly 40 people died for the cause, but it did not move the government.
Vikhe Patil expressed doubt over the government’s credibility in granting social reservation to various communities.
“Our government had given five per cent reservation to Muslims and the court had upheld the decision. But this (BJP-led) government scrapped it,” he said.
Vikhe Patil also hit out at Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis over the issue of granting reservation to the Dhangar (shepherd) community under the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category.
He said in the first Cabinet meeting after coming to power, the BJP-led state government had promised that the Dhangar community would be granted quota.
However, the chief minister is now saying that granting quota to the community falls under the jurisdiction of the Central government, the Congress leader said.
Intervening in the matter, state Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil said the reservations granted by the previous government did not stand in court.
“We formed the State Backward Class Commission and did what is constitutionally necessary. This has unsettled the opposition,” he said.
The opposition members went to the speaker’s podium to object to Patil’s remarks.
The speaker then adjourned the House for 30 minutes.
The Maratha community, which constitutes over 30 per cent of the state’s population, has been demanding quota for a long time and its agitation for the same in July and August this year had taken a violent turn.