EVEN as the Maratha Kranti Morcha (MKM) held protests in front of the offices of four major political parties on Sunday, Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati, the 13th direct descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and great-grandson of Chhatrapati Shahu of Kolhapur, has appealed to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to come on one platform and work unitedly to ensure reservation for the Maratha community.
“Both Thackeray and Fadnavis have shown sincerity on the issue. But they will have to prove their sincerity. They can do so by coming together on one platform, bringing all parties together and working unitedly for ensuring reservation for the community,” Sambhajiraje, an MP, told this newspaper.
“Their party leaders are giving statements against each other. Instead of wasting their energies on publicity stunts or trying to run down their opponents, if they work together and bring all parties under one umbrella, it will be in the larger interest of the Maratha community. I appeal to the two leaders to step forward, keep politics aside and work for the upliftment of the Maratha community,” he said.
Sambhajiraje said the Maratha community is expecting all MPs from Maharashtra to come together to get reservation for the community. “NCP chief Sharad Pawar has told me his party MPs are fully in support of reservation. Shiv Sena, BJP and Congress MPs too have conveyed their support. They need to now come together by keeping aside their political differences. The Maratha community is watching each one of them. The community has always supported other communities on their demands. Now, it’s the turn of the Maratha community to seek reservation,” he said.
Sambhajiraje said the sub-committee on reservation set up by the state government should have members from all parties. “Why are members of only three parties included? Why are BJP leaders not included? …let there be transparency in the committee’s functioning,” he said.
Opposing the government’s move to provide reservation to the Maratha community under EWS category, Sambhajiraje said, “EWS is already caught in a legal tangle in the apex court. Besides, if reservation is given under EWS, the SC may ask as to why does the Maratha community need reservation separately? Also, when a separate law has been enacted, then why EWS. What is important is getting the stay vacated through proper strategy and united efforts.”
On his Saturday’s comments he was ready to bear the “first attack” on himself, he said, “I was approached for leading the Maratha agitation. I said I’m a sevak of the community, I’m not the leader. I have come upfront for the sake of welfare of the poor among the Maratha community. When I said I was ready to bear the first attack, I meant I’m ready to suffer the consequences whatever they may be. I’m prepared for the worst for the upliftment of the have-nots among the Maratha community,” he said.
Sambhajiraje said he was pained when a Maratha leader tried to create division between him and Chhatrapati Udyanraje Bhosale. “If people are trying to create rift between us, we will give them a befitting reply. Both of us are interested in the welfare of the Maratha community and are trying our best to ensure that,” he said.
He said he won’t mind if he is asked to head Sarathi. “If I’m given an opportunity to head Sarathi, I will put my might for Maratha community youngsters. Reservation is important, but Sarathi is no less important. Sarathi has several schemes for youngsters which need to be implemented stringently. It will turn around the life of youngsters,” he said.
Calling a halt to the recruitment drive, he said, “The government has announced 12,000 vacancies. It says it has reserved 1,600 posts for the Maratha community. We want to know what is the hurry in filling up the posts? Can’t the government wait for another two months, till the Supreme Court bench gives its finally verdict. We urge the government to stop the recruitment process.”
Meanwhile, MKM on Sunday held protests outside the offices of four major political parties in Pune city. “Leaders at the party offices promised to pursue the reservation issue. At BJP office, MP Girish Bapat was present. At Congress Bhavan, Sanjay Jagtap and other leaders were present,” said Rajendra Kondhare, MKM coordinator.
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