A war of words was triggered after BJP-nominated Rajya Sabha MP Sambhaji Raje claimed Saturday that Congress leader and Minister for Other Backward Classes (OBC) Vijay Wadettiwar has said the Maratha community should be included in the OBC quota.
On Saturday, Raje said that Wadettiwar, in private conversation with him, had suggested the inclusion of Marathas into the OBC category. “He told me that the OBCs do not have opposition to the Maratha and asked why you are not coming into OBC (category). He further suggested creating a separate category and increasing the reservation,” Raje said.
He claimed to have told Wadettiwar that the Maratha reservation was provided under the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018, and that community does not want to be included in the OBC quota.
The spat erupted a day after Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray assured OBC leaders in the meeting on Friday that the OBC quota would not be reduced and a Cabinet sub-committee would be set up to address the issues of the OBCs.
Wadettiwar, an OBC leader, denied that he had suggested inclusion of the Marathas in the OBC category. “When Raje asked me about the OBC opposition to the Maratha reservation, I told him that there is no question of opposing Maratha reservation. If you (Maratha) want to come into OBC, then you should add 12 per cent reservation into the OBC’s existing 27 per cent reservation. I told him that Marathas cannot be given a share from the existing OBC reservation,” Wadettiwar said.
The Minister further said his stand is clear that the existing OBC reservation should not be touched.
This was not the first time that Raje and Wadettiwar have engaged in a war of words. Recently, when Raje had said that the Marathas are “showing restraint but they may take out swords if needed” on the reservation issue, Wadettiwar had asked against whom the swords would be used. In a reference to Raje’s lineage, the Congress leader had said kings should be voicing concerns of all sections of society and not of a particular community.
While Maratha organisations are up in arms against the government and want immediate steps to lift the stay of Supreme Court on the reservation and other welfare schemes, the OBC’s have also started raising their issues, stating that the OBC quota should not be reduced to accommodate any community.
Meanwhile, OBC leaders have expressed their unhappiness after the Maharashtra Public Service Commission (MPSC) exam, scheduled to be held on Sunday, was deferred.
“Since the CM has taken the decision, I do not wish to comment. It is a fact that there were two sides to holding the exam. I had made my stand clear that students keep preparing for exams and some Maratha youths come in OBC and open categories as well,” Chhagan Bhujbal, state Minister for Food and Civil Supplies and NCP leader, said.
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