In what could perhaps lead to a new potent alliance in Maharashtra, Maratha community leaders on Wednesday made a strong pitch for reservations for Muslims in government jobs.
Praising the Muslim community for backing the Maratha Kranti Morcha and extending help to silent marches, Maratha community leaders said Muslims voluntarily joined their marches at different places. “They did not just join the marches, but also extended help like giving water and refreshments to the participants. And this happened across Maharashtra,” said Ajay Bhosale of the Sambhaji Brigade, which has been leading Maratha morchas from the front across the state.
Abid Shaikh, a businessman from Kondhwa, along with his friends provided 1.46 lakh mineral water bottles to the morchaites. “We are not attached with any political party. We felt the demand raised by the Maratha community were just and reasonable and it would be good gesture if we backed and helped them,” he said.
Bhosale said that like the Maratha community, Muslims too have a large section which is poor and struggling to get jobs and seats in educational institutes. “This is because they have no reservations. The government should provide reservations to the community after discussing with them. We will support the demand raised by the Muslim community,” he said.
The support extended by Muslims to the Maratha community and vice-versa assumes significance since the Dalit community has already extended similar support. “Which means, now the Marathas, Muslims and the Dalits are together and government cannot ignore their demands,” said a Maratha community leader.
Dalit leaders like Prakash Ambedkar and Ramdas Athawale had backed the silent Maratha morchas while denying any plans for counter-marches.
Welcoming the support from the Maratha community, MIM leader Imtiaz Jaleel said, “It is a good development. The Muslim community has supported the Marathas on their demand for reservations and also lent its cooperation to the morchaites,” he said.
Jaleel said the Muslim community, taking a cue from massive Maratha morchas, was also planning similar morchas in Mumbai and other parts of the state. “We are contemplating such morchas in support of our demand for reservations. The morchas are happening, but the schedule is yet to be finalised,” he said.
Jaleel said that in 2014, the Bombay High Court had stayed the decision of the Congress-NCP government to provide reservations to the Marathas in government jobs and educational institutions.
The HC also stayed the decision to provide five per cent reservations to Muslims in government service, he said.
Jaleel said the erstwhile state government had told the court that its decision on reservations for Marathas and Muslims were based on the facts that the two communities were socially and educationally backward and also economically poor. “The government had cited reports of a committee headed by former chief minister Narayan Rane,” he said.
The government said it had taken into consideration recommendations of Rajinder Sachar Committee and Mahmoodur Rahman Committee, both of which had recommended reservations for Muslims, while arriving at the decision to provide quotas for them.
Sena buys peace with Marathas with Saamana apology
Even as the cartoon controversy blew over with Saamana carrying an apology by its cartoonist on its front page on Wednesday, the Maratha community has decided to close the chapter. “Since the newspaper and its editor have expressed regret, the matter is over for us,” said Ajay Bhosale of the Sambhaji Brigade, which had claimed responsibility for the attack on Saamana offices.
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