Updated: June 1, 2021 2:15:13 am
Under fire for losing the Maratha quota case in the Supreme Court and facing the threat of a massive agitation by the BJP and Maratha groups from June 5, the Maha Vikas Aghadi government on Monday announced that members of the community would be accommodated in the 10 per cent quota for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS).
However, a Maratha leader panned the order, saying caste groups not covered by reservations were automatically eligible for EWS quota, and no government order was required for this.
The order was issued by the General Administration Department of the state government, four weeks after the Supreme Court’s May 5 judgment striking down a separate quota for Marathas in jobs and education that had been enacted by the state government in 2018 as unconstitutional.
Since then, the state has been looking at various options for accommodating the demand for a quota by the politically powerful and socially dominant community. The EWS category, introduced by the Modi government, is for poorer sections of castes not covered by any quotas. The state order said the Maratha community can avail of this 10 per cent quota.
“Only families who have annual income up to Rs 8 lakh can avail of the EWS facility,” said GAD secretary Kishorraje Nimbalkar.
PWD Minister Ashok Chavan said, “Earlier, Marathas could either take benefit of SEBC or EWS, now they can take either under EWS or go for open category.”
Members of the community whose appointments under the now invalid Socially and Educationally Backward Classes quota were pending in the time period of the Supreme Court’s interim stay, from September 9, 2020 to the date of the final order on May 5 this year, would be accommodated under this quota, the order said.
At least 6,000 people are expected to benefit. However, it would not be applicable to those who had already been appointed under the SEBC quota in appointments and admissions.
The Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress-led MVA government has also extended till June 7 the tenure of the Justice Dilip Bhosale Committee, set up to review the top court’s May 5 verdict and quota to Marathas advise the state on the future course of action.
“EWS is for all economically weaker sections across caste and community who are not enlisted for any other reservation. So, what was the necessity of issuing a government resolution (GR)?” said Maratha Kranti Morcha general secretary Rajendra Kondhare on Monday.
According to the MKM leader, “The state government decision is a ploy to diffuse the unrest among the Maratha
community. And to show the government was doing something.”
He pointed out that after the Supreme Court verdict, the government had given Marathas the option to apply for jobs or to educational institutions under EWS category, but with the caveat that they would not be eligible for reservation under the SEBC Act if it was reinstated in future.
The state government’s flip-flop on Maratha reservation was complicating the issue and not serving the stated purpose of uplifting the poor in the community, he said.
State BJP president Chandrakant Patil said the state government’s decision to accommodate Marathas in EWS category was “an escape route”. He said the state government was “betraying the commitment given to Marathas” of 12 and 13 per cent reservation under the independent SEBC category.
“The MVA government cannot run away from its responsibilities. Marathas will not accept the EWS. They will continue to fight for their rights for independent reservation. The community has struggled for several decades. They had patiently waited for quota,” he said.
Patil pointed out that the state government had time till June 7 to file a review petition in the Supreme Court. “But they adopted a shortcut. This is unacceptable,” he said.
JD(U) too expressed its objection. “JD(U) supported quota for Marathas because they are socially and educationally backward. But this decision would put the future of students from economically backward classes in question. What the Maharashtra government is trying to do is to make two sections – EWS and the Marathas – fight with each other. This is not good,” JD(U) leader K C Tyagi told The Indian Express.
He added that JD(U) stands for quota for Marathas just like it supports Jats in north India and Patels in Gujarat.
Reservation in promotion
The cabinet sub-committee set up to look into reservation of SC/STs in promotion will meet at 10 am on Tuesday.
Power Minister Nitin Raut, who was upset with the government for scrapping reservation in promotions of government employees, went to the residence of CM Uddhav Thackeray and expressed displeasure after he was not allowed to raise the issue in the cabinet. Later, a cabinet sub-committee was set up.
Urban Development Minister Eknath Shinde said that certain ministers had discussed the issue in the cabinet and that it would be discussed again.
Energy Minister Nitin Raut, who met the CM, told the media that they would have a meeting on Tuesday to resolve the issue.
Sources in the government said the NCP was opposed to reintroduction of reservation in promotion. A law and judiciary department official said the proposal was not tenable in law.
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Devendra Fadnavis said that it was only because of the state government’s mistake that the quota for OBCs was quashed and the state must do everything so that it is retained.
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