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Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Friday said that the Congress and NCP approved the reservation to the Dhangar community in the cabinet but in an affidavit filed in court to justify the reservation attached a study report submitted by BARTI which rejected the reservation to the community. Babasaheb Ambedkar Research Training Institute which was mandated to submit a report on the tribal reservation status of the Dhangar or shepherd community had estimated that the community constituted 3.5 per cent of the the population. It has sizeable pockets in parts of western Maharashtra, Vidarbha and North Maharashtra.
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The Dhangars are fighting for scheduled tribe category reservation but tribal leaders across parties are opposed to their inclusion in the scheduled tribe category. The Congress-NCP had been accusing the BJP-led government of not keeping its promise to include the community in the scheduled tribe category. “Yes, I had promised to give reservation to the Dhangar community in my election campaign. I had even visited Baramati where Dhangar leaders along with supporters were on an indefinite fast before the Assembly elections in 2014,” Fadnavis said.
He said that after taking charge of the government on October 30, 2014, he called for the Congress-NCP government’s recommendations on reservations to the Dhangar community. “When I went through through the Congress-NCP recommendations, it was evident that in their submission to court, they supported the reservation for Dhangars. But along with the support letter they attached a study report which at length explained why Dhangars should not be considered for ST reservation.” The court had then dismissed the government’s claim.
He also indicated that Dhangar community leaders informed him that they cannot rely on BARTI report on Dhangars.