NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Wednesday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and pitched for reservation for the Maratha community without diluting the quota for other communities. Meeting the Prime Minister for the first time after the Maratha agitation broke out in Maharashtra, Pawar said the community needed facilities that were available to others less privileged as a “substantial section of the Marathas subsist on farming”.
After the meeting, Pawar told reporters that he requested for initiating a coordinated action in the Parliament in this crucial matter which pertained both to the state and central governments.
The silent marches taken out by Maratha Kranti Morcha around Maharashtra to highlight demands like reservation in jobs and education have created ripples in state politics, with major players adopting a “wait and watch” approach to see if the massive mobilisation will eventually assume electoral dimensions.
Observers say that all main parties–BJP, Congress, Shiv Sena and NCP–are unnerved by the huge success of the rallies, the immediate trigger for them being the rape and murder of a girl from the community at Kopardi in Ahmednagar.
During the meeting, Pawar also discussed the issues faced by sugarcane growers and the sugar industry.
He stressed that various government decisions regarding sugar were creating difficulties for the growers to get remunerative prices of their produce.
He also drew the Centre’s attention to the plight of sugar mills which have started cogeneration but have been hit hard by reluctance of the government to buy power from them.
Cogeneration is the generation of electricity and useful heat jointly, especially the utilisation of the steam left over from electricity generation for heating.
Pawar sought a review of the government policy on ethanol, saying the recent changes have affected sugar mills producing ethanol for blending it in petrol.
He criticised Maharashtra Minister Mahadev Jankar for allegedly using abusive language against him but appealed to people, especially NCP workers to show restraint and not to take law into their hands.
In an apparent dig at Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, he said, “Everyone is awaiting the action which is being initiated against the ‘cultured’ minister.”