prevailing in the farming community among the Marathas calls for a quota in education and employment,” Chavan says. Deputy CM Ajit Pawar of the NCP says, “The poor among the Marathas need reservation.”
Even Congress leader Ratnakar Mahajan says, “I am opposed to reservation as it will not address the real concerns of economically backward sections. Moreover, how can Marathas, a dominant ruling class controlling almost 70 per cent of the state’s economy, qualify as a backward class?”
A senior NCP leader, who belongs to an OBC group, says, “Maratha reservation in employment and education will eventually become political reservation. The Marathas want to counter the growth of OBC in politics.” A 27-per-cent reservation has helped OBCs make inroads in village panchayats, gram sabhas and corporations.
The Dalit view
Dalit writer Arjun Dangle says, “In the 1980s and 1990s, there was never a serious demand for Maratha reservation. On the contrary, Marathas always took pride in the forward tag. Those seeking reservation, on the other hand, argued that a sub-caste of Marathas, Kunbi, had OBC status in Vidarbha, and demanded why it should not be extended across Maharashtra.”
Prakash Ambedkar, great-grandson of B R Ambedkar, says: “Almost 3,000 Maratha families in the state control 72 per cent of its land. And 171 families are politically dominant. A majority of the educational institutions held by Maratha leaders are for students of higher income families; poor people are left out,” he says. “If Marathas are lacking in education and employment, it also shows a leadership failure.”
17 CMs in Maharashtra so far
10 of them Marathas: Yashwantrao Chavan, Vasantdada Patil, Babasaheb Bhosale, Shivajirao Patil Nilengekar, Sharad Pawar, Shankarrao Chavan, Narayan Rane, Vilasrao Deshmukh, Ashok Chavan, Prithviraj Chavan
7 non-Marathas were: Marotrao Kannamwar, P K Sawant (caretaker CM), Vasantrao Naik, A R Antulay, Sudhakarrao Naik, Manohar Joshi, Sushil Kumar Shinde
50% or thereabouts, representation in the assembly. From 1962 to 2004, 1,336 of of 2,430 MLAs elected have been Marathas. In the 2009 polls that elected the current assembly, 135 of 288 MLAs were Marathas.