The ongoing winter session of the Maharashtra legislature may be extended if needed to pass the Bill which provides for reservation to the Maratha community, Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil said on Wednesday.
Patil was speaking in the Legislative Council on the opposition demand to table the report of the State Backward Class Commission (SBCC) which has termed the Maratha community as “socially and economically backward”.
The minister is also the Leader of the Upper House.
Raising the issue, Leader of Opposition Dhananjay Munde of the NCP sought to know why the BJP-led government was “hiding” the reports of the SBCC and the TISS (Tata Institute of Social Sciences), providing for reservation to the Maratha and Dhangar communities, respectively.
The Dhangar (shepherd) community has been pressing for reservation under the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category.
He said if the government tables the Action Taken Reports (ATRs) on the SBCC and the TISS findings on Thursday, it means it is not serious about holding a discussion over the reservation issue in the House.
Responding to him, Patil said sufficient time will be provided to members to place their views over the ATRs.
“Sufficient time will be given to discuss the ATRs and the (Maratha quota) Bill as well. If needed, the session will also be extended,” the minister said.
According to the current schedule, the winter session, which began in Mumbai on November 19, will conclude on November 30.
Patil said the government has accepted the recommendations of the SBCC and added there is no precedence of its report being tabled in the House.
“The only precedence is of the yearly report (of the commission) being tabled. When the law is finally made on Maratha reservation, I am sure Opposition members will congratulate the government in private,” Patil said.
A Cabinet sub-committee was formed last week to study the SBCC’s report on reservation for the Marathas in government jobs and education and take a decision on it.
The government had received the report on November 15 and it was placed before the Cabinet on November 18 for approval.
The government proposes to provide reservation to the Marathas under a new category, “Socially and Educationally Backward Class (SEBC)”, without disturbing the existing quotas for SCs, STs and OBCs.
However, the government has not yet revealed the quantum of reservation it intends to provide to the politically influential community which constitutes over 30 per cent of the state’s population.
Maratha groups are demanding a 16 per cent reservation.