Updated: June 16, 2021 11:41:52 pm
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will on Thursday hold a meeting with members of the Maratha community, led by Parliamentarian Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati, to discuss their demand for restoration of reservation to the community, minister of state Satej Patil said on Wednesday.
Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Public Works Department Minister Ashok Chavan and Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil, along with other ministers, will be present at the meeting, said Patil, who is also the guardian minister for Kolhapur.
The announcement came on a day the Maratha community began a silent protest at the Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj Samadhi Sthal in Kolhapur, among other places in the state, to press for their demands.
“The government is positive about resolving the Maratha community’s demands. On behalf of the chief minister and the deputy chief minister, I invite you to hold talks with the government and find a solution to the demands raised by the community,” Patil told Sambhajiraje as he also participated in the protest.
Sambhajiraje said, “I have accepted the government invitation. I wanted to meet them on Friday but the CM and deputy CM want the meeting to be held tomorrow (Thursday). I will meet them tomorrow at 5 pm in Mumbai.”
The agitation started around 10 am, with MLAs and MPs across party lines present on the occasion to express their support for the Maratha community
Stating that the government supports the stance adopted by the Maratha community, Patil said, “The government has already taken some steps for the welfare of the Maratha community and will take more steps as demanded by the community. And for this to happen, the government is ready hold a dialogue. Sambhajiraje and Maratha community coordinators should meet the chief minister and deputy chief minister in Mumbai. They are ready for a dialogue tomorrow (Thursday),” he said.
Patil said whether it was about strengthening SARATHI, giving more funds to the Annasaheb Patil Mahamandal, setting up of hostels or giving scholarships to students of the community, the government has already initiated steps in this direction. “The government spares no effort in meeting the demands raised by the community,” he said.
Urging political parties not to play politics on the reservation issue, another state minister from Kolhapur, Hasan Mushrif, said, “It is not the time to play politics. The Maratha community is not demanding reservation in politics. It is demanding reservation in education and jobs. What is wrong in this? The community has suffered for long and their demands are just and reasonable. We should all extend our support to the community’s fight for reservation by keeping politics out of it”.
Mushrif said the erstwhile Prithviraj Chavan-led government and its successor the Devendra Fadnavis-led government had both “made a mistake” while giving reservation to the Maratha community.
“Because of the mistakes of the two governments, the reservation for the community was not upheld in the courts. First, our Congress-NCP government, instead of appointing a commission, appointed the Narayan Rane committee to look into the reservation demand of the community. That is why it was not upheld in the court. Subsequently, the Fadnavis government gave reservation to the Maratha community when the Centre had withdrawn powers of the state government to do so. The Supreme Court then quashed the reservation upheld by the Bombay High Court on May 5. We should learn from these mistakes and come up with a strong and foolproof solution so that the Maratha community gets the reservation which it deserves. How long will we mislead the community,” he said.
Echoing the views of Patil, Mushrif said, “The government has stepped forward with a positive mindset to resolve the community’s grievances. Therefore, the Maratha community should also come forward and hold thorough discussion over their demands. I am sure a solution can be found.”
Shahu Maharaj Chhatrapati, who also addressed the gathering, urged the Maratha coordinators to take their demands to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “We should take our demand to the Prime Minister.. also, we should hold a dialogue with the chief minister,” he said.
Both Patil and Mushrif praised the Maratha community and Sambhajiraje for showing patience and holding a silent agitation. “The government appreciates the patience shown by the community,” they said.
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