January 26, 2021 12:01:51 am
A day after Congress leader Vijay Wadettiwar said reservations provided to Other Backward Classes (OBC) should not be disturbed while earmarking quota for the Marathas in Maharashtra, the community has expressed strong objections to his remarks and said this would affect their chance of getting a nod from the Supreme Court.
Addressing a rally of people belonging to the OBC, Vimukta Jati and Nomadic Tribes (VJNT) and Special Backward Class communities in Jalna on Sunday, the minister said, “The OBC communities were not against other castes getting reservation, but their demand was that it should be done without disturbing the benefits the existing OBCs enjoy. We will not tolerate if attempts are made to touch the OBC quota or reduce it. I will request the state and central governments to carry out OBC census. If that is not done, I will myself move a resolution in the state assembly,” he said.
Calling Wadettiwar’s stand “unconstitutional”, Rajendra Kondhare, one of the coordinators of Maratha Kranti Morcha, said, “When the Gaikwad Commission set up by the state government has termed the Maratha community as socially and educationally backward, when the state legislature and the government have given nod to the commission’s report besides the government enacting a law, how can the minister take such a position? This is unconstitutional.”
Kondhare said the Maratha Kranti Morcha has consulted legal experts vis-a-vis the minister’s statement. “Most of them said this might severely affect the Maratha community’s chances of getting a Supreme Court nod to the SEBC Act if it is brought to the court’s notice. The legal experts said when the minister, who is part of the government, is opposing the Maratha reservation in OBC category and taking a contrarion stand, why would the Supreme Court agree to it?” he questioned.
Kondhare said while the cabinet sub-committee headed by another Congress minister, Ashok Chavan, was pitching for Maratha reservation, another minister of the government was working against it. “The Maratha community feels the minister’s stand will severely affect chances of getting reservation. We are going to write to the chief minister, expressing our objection to the minister’s stand,” Kondhare said.
Another Maratha coordinator, Vinod Patil, said, “The statement by the minister is unfortunate. I think it falls in the category of contempt of court. This is because the Gaikwad Commission first submitted its report on social and education backwardness of Maratha community. The state legislature unanimously approved and then the high court upheld. The state government then has filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court supporting the reservation after it was challenged.”
Patil said two divergent views raised doubts over the intention of the government regarding the quota. “The minister’s statement indeed raises doubts over whether the state government is really serious about giving reservation to Maratha community or not,” he said.
Vinayak Mete, who heads Shiv Sangram Party, said, “What the minister said at Jalna is highly condemnable and such comments do not fit into the culture of Maharahstra. It could hit the community’s chances of getting reservation in the apex court. If the minister says the Gaikwad Commission report is bogus, then it is the duty of another minister, Ashok Chavan, who heads the cabinet sub-committee on Maratha reservation, to clarify if the report is bogus or not. Since the Maratha community has taken serious objection to the statement, the state Congress should clarify its position about the minister’s statement, along with the chief minister.”
Maruti Bhapkar, another coordinator of Maratha Kranti Morcha, said, “The Congress should ask the minister to quit the cabinet and carry out his leadership outside the government. Otherwise, the Congress will have to pay heavily if the minister’s remarks affect the Maratha community’s chances of getting reservation.”
The Maratha reservation case has been posted for hearing by a constitutional bench of the SC on February 5. This was after the government counsels last week sought physical hearing of the case rather than virtual. The apex court will hear the batch of petitions challenging and supporting the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Act on February 5.
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