When the state Congress leaders agreed to meet most of the demands made by the Matang community members gathered for a public meeting in the city on Thursday,it was not without reason. The Matang community,a scheduled caste,has an 80-lakh-strong presence in the state.
Though almost three-fourth of the community comprise traditional voters of the Congress,the party has reason to feel it is appeasement time as the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party is threatening to make inroads into the state.
Acknowledging the strength of the community,state Cultural Affairs Minister Harshavardhan Patil said the government had to take the demands of the community into consideration ahead of Lok Sabha elections.
Around 10,000 volunteers of Matang Ekta Andolan (MEA),a social organisation working for the Matang community,gathered for the public meeting arranged by MEA executive president Avinash Bagawe.
MLA Ramesh Bagawe,who represents Matang community in the Assembly,said the community should be given five per cent independent quota in the reservation for backward classes. The organisation also wanted Bharat Ratna to be conferred on the forefather of the community,Lahuji Vastad Salve. Bagawa also demanded a monument of Lahuji Vastad Salve in Pune.
The demands are not big and the state government has to take cognisance of them, said Patil. He promised to recommend the demand for Bharat Ratna to the Central Government through the Chief Minister. I will personally take up the matter with the Chief Minister and also gather support from the Maharashtra MPs, he said.
State president of Congress Manikrao Thackeray said he would fix up a meeting with the Chief Minister regarding implementation of the report of the commission set up to look into the condition of the community. The report is ready and the government will implement it wholeheartedly, he said.