At present, Maharashtra has already enforced 52% reservation in educational institutions and jobs. While the quota for Scheduled Castes is 13%, STs and OBCs get 7% and 19% reservation in government institutions and jobs. The denotified nomadic tribes and special backward category together enjoy 13% reservation.
Amidst rising anger among the people of the Maratha community who have been demanding 16% reservation in government-run educational institutions and jobs, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has announced to convene a special session of the state Assembly to resolve the issue. But several Maratha groups have refused to make room at the dialogue table and have announced a fresh agitation to push for their demands. While the Maratha Kranti Morcha Coordination Committee announced a state-wide agitation starting August 1, another outfit, the Maratha Coordination Committee has given a bandh call for Monday (July 30).
A report in The Indian Express said that the Maratha Kranti Morcha committee had on Sunday met in Latur where two days ultimatum was given to the state government to enforce a decision on Maratha reservation. A leader of the outfit told the daily that CM holding talks wouldn’t change their plans. He said that this time, every district is planning its own agenda.
“There is no uniformity,” he said, adding that while some were ready for talks with the government, others had doubts over the government’s intentions.
After the organisers of the protest called off the agitation on Wednesday, CM Fadnavis had said that he was willing to hold talks with the Sakal Maratha Samaj, the umbrella organisation leading the stir. He met with the members of the Sakal Maratha Organisation, along with Maharashtra Swabhiman Party president and Rajya Sabha MP Narayan Rane where he is believed to have assured that the BJP government is ‘committed’ to the welfare of the Marathas who constitute 33 per cent of the state’s population.
Meanwhile, the IE report said that with an eye on how the protests by the Maratha groups have forced the government to bow to their demands, other communities across the state are planning to hold demonstrations to ramp-up their demands including reservation.
The Dhanghar community has warned of a street agitation to press for inclusion in the Scheduled Tribe category, it said.
Likewise, there is growing unrest among the Halba-Kosti community in Vidarbha as their ST status has been challenged in court. The OBCs are consolidating, demanding higher quota to accommodate all their sub-castes, the IE report said.
At present, the state has already enforced 52% reservation in educational institutions and jobs. While the quota for Scheduled Castes is 13%, STs and OBCs get 7% and 19% reservation in government institutions and jobs. The denotified nomadic tribes and special backward category together enjoy 13% reservation. The OBCs believe that they should get at least 27% quota.
The Other Backward Caste Aarakshan Samiti chief, Anil Mahajan, told that daily that they will file a PIL in the Bombay High Court seeking higher quota for the OBCs. The outfit has taken this stand after NCP chief Sharad Pawar announced that his party will move a proposal in the Parliament seeking a provision to accommodate reservation for Marathas in the Constitution.
Another OBC leader said that since these problems are pending before the courts, there is “no quick solution to them”. “If Marathas are given economically and socially backward caste status, it would open a Pandora’s box. There would be 1,009 communities within Maharashtra which would challenge the decision of the state government in court,” he told IE on terms of anonymity.
Meanwhile, the Maharashtra State Dhangar Welfare Association has called a meeting of the group on July 31 to mount pressure on the government for their demand. Fadnavis had on Saturday said that the government was waiting for a report by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences on the Dhangars who with a population of one crore, make a decisive vote bank in the state. He had said that based on the report, the state government will make its recommendations before the Centre.
“Due to a typographical error, ‘Dhangar’ became ‘Dhangad’ in the Centre’s list. So the Dhangars couldn’t avail of the ST benefit,” BJP Rajya Sabha MP Vikas Mahatme, who belongs to the Dhangar community and is a Padma Shri, said.
Another trouble the government is facing from the Halba-Koshti agitation in Vidarbha. The stir is being spearheaded by the Rashtriya Aadmin Kruti Samiti. The group leaders say that their ST status, accorded by the Constitution, has been challenged.
Nanda Parate, a leader of the group, said that the BJP’s recent loss in the Gondia-Bhandara Lok Sabha bypoll was because people are “not getting any relief from the BJP regime”. “Those Halba-Koshti people in jobs who availed the ST benefits are getting termination notices. We have registered 700 cases so far of individuals who have lost jobs or have had their pensions stopped.”
“If it remains unresolved, the community will go against the BJP government in the state,” he added.