The ruling BJP will bring a motion seeking a debate on the Maratha reservation in a bid to prevent the Congress-NCP from cornering the state government over reservation to the Maratha community. The decision was taken at the core committee meeting of BJP.
The Kranti Maratha Morcha has planned a mammoth rally in Nagpur on December 14. The Congress and the NCP are gearing up to ride the rally to scale up the attack against the BJP-led government in Maharashtra.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis took the initiative at the core committee meeting of the party to facilitate a thorough debate on the floor of the legislature this week. A one-page resolution supporting 16 per cent reservation for the Marathas in education and employment has been drafted to convey the message that the Fadnavis government is going to fulfill the promise made to people.
A source in the BJP said, “The ruling party’s initiative will serve a larger political purpose ahead of the crucial local bodies elections in 47 municipal council and nagar panchayats in the next three phases between December 14 and January 8.”
The BJP believes its pro-Maratha stance would be significant to dent the strongholds of Congress-NCP, specially in Pune, Baramati and Nanded where the elections are scheduled.
It would also disarm the Congress-NCP, which reckons that Maratha reservation is a weapon against the Fadnavis government, it feels.
The Marathas with 33 per cent population is the most dominant political force in Maharashtra. Under the banner of Kranti Maratha Morcha, it has held 36 rallies across the state. The first was at Aurangabad on August 9. It concluded with a bike rally at Mumbai on November 6.
A senior BJP cabinet minister said, “The decision to bring a Maratha reservation debate is also a ploy on the part of the government to diffuse the opposition’s sustained campaign against demonetisation.” It was felt that the Congress-NCP will be forced to join the debate to guard its own constituencies.
On the other hand, the BJP believes a debate will provide them with a means to explain the measures taken by the government to address problems of the Maratha community.
Insiders indicated that in the last four months, the Maratha morchas led to caste polarisation with dalits/ OBCs extending support to the ruling BJP. Initially, Maratha morcha was perceived as the hidden agenda of NCP leaders supported by Congress. Gradually, Maratha leaders across parties joined the movement.
Now, the BJP is adopting a multi-pronged strategy to make inroads into the Maratha community specially in Congress-NCP bastions.
The leader of the opposition in the state assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil said, “There cannot be any pretext for delaying the Maratha reservation. There is a BJP government at the centre and the state.”
A BJP functionary said, “The BJP and the Fadnavis government are committed to Maratha reservation. A couple of months ago, the BJP at its Maharashtra Executive Meeting adopted a resolution for 16 per cent reservation to Marathas in education and employment.” Similarly,
Fadnavis government has already granted Rs 10,000 crore package for economically backward communities including Maratha students for pursuing professional courses, complete with lodging and boarding.