EVEN AS the Supreme Court stayed the implementation of Maratha reservation in education and jobs, the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi government said it was committed to the community’s cause, while the opposition BJP said it was a “black day” for the community that forms over 30 per cent of the Maharashtra’s population.
The apex court, however, made it clear that the status of those who have availed of the benefits will not be disturbed. The cabinet sub-committee led by Minister of Public Works Ashok Chavan is set to meet on Thursday to discuss the next strategy. Chavan said, “There is absolutely no ambiguity about the reservation. The Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena are committed to Maratha reservation.” The state government had worked to provide top lawyers to plead the case in the apex court.
A senior cabinet minister, requesting anonymity, said, “It is an unfortunate development. Once the reservation was granted, it should have continued. Any stay at this point is bound to generate unrest among the community,” adding, “the government will contest the case to its logical end.”
State BJP leaders were, however, quick to point out that the Uddhav Thackeray-led government was not serious enough about the matter to properly present the case in court.
Drawing parallels between their two governments, Opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis said, “During my tenure, we spent day and night interacting with different organisations and groups and consulted a battery of legal luminaries. Constitutional experts were involved to take Maratha quota ahead. It was sanctioned after two years of hard work.”
State BJP president Chandrakant Patil described the stay as a “black day” and a “failure of the state government”. “Whenever the matter came up for hearing, they could never present the case effectively. At times, their lawyers were missing. The state government is busy with other issues. Where is their concern for Maratha students’ career or employment?”
Joining the opposition, former CM Narayan Rane asked, “Why did the government bring the case to such a situation? If they had pleaded the matter properly with adequate documents, it would have been in their favour.”
As Assembly and Lok Sabha polls are scheduled for 2024, it is too early to say how the community will exercise their franchise, but Maratha organisations are upset over the stay.
Rajendra Kondarne, general secretary of Akhil Bharatiya Maratha Mahasangh, said, “If Maratha reservation is stayed on the grounds that it exceeds 50 per cent quota, then it will affect 26 states and two union territories. The decision is unfortunate.”
WITH INPUTS FROM PTI