Joining the league of political parties that back quota for the sizeable Maratha community in the state, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has formed a four-member panel to look into the issue. “Our panel will look into the issue in detail before making our stand clear in our election manifesto,” said AAP leader Sanjeev Sane, who is part of the panel that includes tribal leader Vithal Lad, Dalit leader Lalit Babbar and activist Raju Bhise.
Forming 30 per cent of the state’s population, Marathas have traditionally ruled Maharashtra politics.
“There was a time when Marathas were rulers in the state, but today there are large underprivileged sections in the community,” Sane said.
According to Sane, even senior leaders like BJP’s Gopinath Munde and NCP’s Chhagan Bhujbal, who are champions for the OBC cause, have said they are not opposed to reservations for Marathas as long as it does not eat into the OBCs’ share of the pie.
However, any such attempts have failed as Maharashtra already has 52 per cent reservations, which exceeds the 50 per cent cap set by the Supreme Court. While the Mandal commission classified Marathas as a “forward caste”, the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission, in its 2008 report, voted against the inclusion of Marathas in the OBCs category. Recently, another panel under Industries Minister Narayan Rane submitted its report on the issue to the CM.