The ruling BJP on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution supporting the demand for Maratha reservation at its meeting. The resolution emphatically states that there would be no compromise on the existing quota already given to the Other Backward Classes (OBC). This means that to accommodate 16 per cent reservation for the Maratha community, the government would have to convince the Supreme Court to remove the 51 per cent ceiling for quotas in the state.
Senior minister Chandrakant Patil, who moved the Maratha reservation resolution at the meeting, told The Indian Express, “The resolution categorically states that Maratha reservation of 16 per cent will not be included within the OBC quota. The government will urge the Supreme Court to consider allowing quotas in Maharashtra to exceed 51 per cent.” In its presentation to to the court, the state would try to highlight the social and economic concerns of various castes and communities in the state, Patil said. He also cited the example of Tamil Nadu, where reservation extended to various communities works upto 69 percent.
Another senior BJP functionary, on the condition of anonymity, said, “Once we have the nod for the quota, steps to ensure its implementation will be gradually worked out. In the Vidarbha region, the Maratha community, which identifies itself as Maratha-Kunbhi ,already enjoys reservation under the OBC category. There is a suggestion that Marathas in Marathawada, western Maharashtra and Konkan too should use the Maratha-Kunbhi tag to avail the quota.”
However, the leader said, this would have to be done without inviting the ire of the OBC community. At present, Vidarbha-Kunbhis too enjoy OBC reservation. Leaders said the larger question facing the BJP is finding a middle path to ensure that Marathas get the reservation and OBCs are not hurt. At present, the Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribe, OBCs and others smaller groups together account for upto 51 per cent reservation in the state. If the government grants 16 per cent reservation to Marathas, the state quota will come up to 67 per cent.
According to the BJP’s political managers, the Maratha reservation faces challenges on two aspects. A leader said, “One relates to the SC directives of quotas not exceeding 51 per cent. The second challenge is proving that Marathas are a socially backward community.” To establish the Marathas’ social backwardness, the government has decided to submit a 1200-page document showing the community’s history since the times of Chhatrapati Shivaji.
The two-page Maratha resolution states: “Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has taken several measures to accommodate the concerns of the Maratha community, which has been neglected for the past 60 years by the Congress and the NCP. Apart from reservation, Fadnavis has come up with a special economic model to tackle the unrest among rural Marathas. Agro-industries and skill development projects are part of the development plan that the government has rolled out for the welfare of Marathas.”