Fearing yet another agitation by the Maratha community, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday announced that 16% of seats would be reserved for the community while filling 72,000 government posts in two phases.
Since the Maratha reservation case is pending before the Bombay High Court, Mr. Fadnavis said any cases of backlog would be filled in the next recruitment cycle. The Maratha community have organised over 50 mammoth silent marches over the past two years to push for their demands, including reservation in education and jobs.
Mr. Fadnavis said, “The State government is committed to provide reservation to Marathas. The high court has said that any decision can be taken after the backward class commission submits its report. The government cannot take a decision as the matter is sub judice.” He said that based on a report being prepared by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, the government would recommend that the Centre provide reservation to the Dhangar community.
On Thursday, Leader of the Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil raised the issue of pending reservation for Marathas, Dhangars and Muslims through an adjournment motion in the Assembly. He said the Chief Minister’s announcement signalled a victory for the Opposition.
Mr. Vikhe-Patil said, “Youths from the Maratha and Dhangar communities have been protesting peacefully. Now they have threatened to hold demonstrations at Pandharpur on Ashadhi Ekadashi, when lakhs of pilgrims offer prayers at the Vithoba temple. They have also threatened to stop the Chief Minister from offering prayers.”
NCP leader Ajit Pawar appealed to the government to take immediate steps as Maratha youths are losing patience. BJP MLA Ashish Shelar said his party supported the demand for reservation, which was delayed by the previous Congress-NCP government.
When Samajwadi Party MLA Abu Azmi and Congress MLA Naseem Khan demanded 5% reservation for Muslims, Mr. Fadnavis said the government was working towards the betterment of minorities and would do everything for them as guaranteed in the Constitution.
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