The ministerial sub-committee set up by Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to look into issues affecting the Other Backward Classes (OBC), on Monday sought a caste-based survey to determine budgetary allocations depending on population, resumption of government recruitment process and special concessions for OBCs, Vimukt Jati and Nomadic Tribes (VJNT) and Special Backward Classes (SBC) on the lines of those extended to the Marathas.
A delegation of ministers, who were a part of the sub-committee, on Monday visited Thackeray’s official residence in Mumbai with a list of 22 demands.
Headed by senior NCP Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, the committee comprised Jitendra Awhad, Dhananjay Munde (both NCP), Vijay Wadettiwar (Congress) as well as Sanjay Rathod and Gulabrao Patil (Shiv Sena). Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar was also present.
Ever since the Supreme Court stayed Maratha reservation in jobs and education on September 9, caste tensions have flared up in the state, with some Maratha outfits even demanding reservation from the OBC quota.
On October 16, Thackeray had appointed the Bhujbal-led committee for recommending additional welfare measures for the OBCs after announcing special concessions to the Marathas.
The committee, in its seven-page report, called for the “immediate resumption” of recruitment process in government jobs that was stalled following the Maratha quota demand. “The recruitment process has been completed for posts reserved for OBCs, VJNTs and SBCs. They should be given immediate appointments,” it stated.
Even as the SC is still hearing a public interest litigation over caste-based promotions, the committee sought the same while arguing that six states had already implemented the same. It also sought immediate filling up of the posts in the state’s OBC department.
While an OBC census count was last carried out in 1931, the panel asked the CM to write to the Centre to recommence it. “If this is not possible, the government should survey all the OBCs in the state,” the report stated.
Political parties on both sides have been wooing the Maratha community, which constitutes 30 per cent of the state’s population. But OBCs, VJNTs and SBCs, together make up for 52 per cent of the total population. The report underlined this fact, while pushing for more budgetary allocation for the backward classes.
Backing the demand for a population-based budget allocation, the report demanded a 67 per cent hike in OBC, VJNT, SBC department’s budget, arguing that the current allocation of Rs 3,000 crore was woefully inadequate. Sources said that there was a heated debate between Bhujbal and Pawar over this issue.
Contending that students from Maratha, Kunbi and Kunbi-Maratha communities were entitled to benefits of both the Chatrapati Shahu Maharaj Research Training and Human Development Institute (SARTHI) and the Mahatma Phule Research and Training Institute (Mahajyoti), the committee said that only one of them should be retained after consultation with leaders from the Maratha community.
It also demanded replication of all special concessions extended to Maratha students to students of these backward communities. It sought a five-fold increase in foreign scholarships as well as setting up of district-level hostel facilities and hostel dearness allowance for students.
On the lines of another perk extended to the Marathas, the panel demanded a special housing scheme. Like SARTHI, it wants the government to announce additional budget of Rs 150 crore to Mahajyoti and enhanced allocation for pre and post matric scholarship for disadvantaged students. Ajit Pawar agreed to raise supplementary grants for additional allocation to Mahajyoti, said sources.
Further, the committee sought a special financial package for recapitalisation of statutory corporations set up for backward class welfare. It wants the creamy layer condition to be revoked for VJNT communities.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines