A day after the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission said the Maratha community is socio-economically backward, the government has come under pressure from leaders representing the Dhangar and Muslim communities seeking reservation.
Members of the ruling BJP representing the Dhangar (shepherd) community, along with opposition parties, urged the government to expedite the process to include the community among Scheduled Tribes. Muslims leaders, cutting across party lines, have written to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis asking him to consider five per cent reservation for the community in government jobs and education.
BJP MP Dr Vikas Mahatme, who belongs to the Dhangar community, said: “The demand to include the Dhangar community in the Scheduled Tribe category has been pending for several decades. Now, the state government should take a pro-active stand and make recommendations to the Centre. The decision to include Dhangars in the Scheduled Tribe category vests with the Centre.”
The Dhangar community enjoys reservation under the OBC category. But the Dhangars, a wandering tribe, have demanded that they be considered as Scheduled Tribe. Under this category, eligible candidates get more benefits in social welfare schemes, education and government jobs.
The Tata Institute of Social Sciences that was given the task to study the Dhangars’ tribal status, has submitted a report to the government. Based on the findings, the state government will have to forward a formal proposal to the Centre. Mahatme indicated that if the government delays the process, the community members will agitate.
On Muslim reservation issue, the Congress-NCP leaders have decided to corner the state government. Congress MP in Rajya Sabha, Hussain Dalwai, said: “We welcome reservation to the Maratha community. Now, the government should show the same urgency in extending reservation to the Muslims.” The MP has written to the CM about the issue. “The Muslims are not seeking reservation based on religion, but on socio-economic backwardness criteria,” the MP said.