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Minister apologises after ‘itch’ comment on Maratha reservation creates furore

Public Health Minister Tanaji Sawant later issued an apology.

tanaji sawant"My role is to ensure that the Maratha community gets the reservation," Sawant said in his apology. (Photo: Facebook/Tanaji Sawant)

Maharashtra’s Public Health Minister Tanaji Sawant has stoked a controversy after stating on Sunday that the Maratha community had developed an “itch” for reservations.

Faced with attacks by pro-Maratha quota organisations as well as opposition political parties — the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Congress and the Shiv Sena, Sawant apologised on Monday. He later even said that he has been an ardent advocate of reservation for the Maratha community, and as a minister, would ensure that the community gets the quota before he leaves the ministerial post.

“There was nothing on Maratha reservation for two years after it was stayed by the Supreme Court. Now, after the change of power in the state, they are itching for reservation. I want it and my next generation wants it,’’ Sawant had said in his address to Eknath Shinde camp supporters in Osmanabad (Dharashiv) district. He further added that he wants the Marathas to get the reservation, which will be permanent.

Taking an exception to Sawant’s “irresponsible and objectionable” statement, state Congress chief Nana Patole demanded that the minister be immediately sacked from the cabinet. Patole also sought the views of Shinde and Fadnavis on Sawant’s statements.

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Maratha Kranti Morcha coordinator Vinod Patil said Sawant should be reprimanded by Chief Minister Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis.

Accusing the minister of being “high” on power, NCP spokesperson Suraj Chavan said Sawant should apologise. “How can he say Marathas are itching for reservation? Is it wrong to demand reservation? The minister is high on power, money and post. He must apologise, otherwise, we will ensure that he won’t be able to walk on the roads,” said Chavan.

Shiv Sena leader Kishori Pednekar said Sawant had insulted the Maratha community, which has been aggressively pursuing restoration of quota.

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On Monday, Sawant apologised for his statement. “If my statement has offended the Maratha community, then I am apologising to the community. My role is to ensure that the Maratha community gets the reservation,” he said.

Sawant said if his statement has hurt anyone’s sentiments, he was willing to apologise to everyone – be it a toddler or senior citizens – from the Maratha community.

First published on: 26-09-2022 at 10:16:49 pm
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