The Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Friday said the government will appeal in Supreme Court against the Bombay High Court’s decision to disallow 16 per cent reservation to Maratha community in public services and education. However, court has stayed the reservation for Muslims in education but not in public services.
Fadnavis said, “ My government is committed to the reservation for Maratha community. If there are certain discrepancies in the law pointed by High Court, we will take measures to make the necessary corrections. The lacuna will be addressed to ensure the quota for Maratha community comes into force.” Fadnavis said, “ The shortcoming in the laws will be taken up during the winter session of state legislative assembly beginning in Nagpur on December 8.”
The HC ruling against Maratha reservation is going to have a wider political ramifications as opposition parties Congress-NCP will use it against the ruling BJP government. This was evident as former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said, “ We want the new government to clear its stand on Maratha quota. The Congress will study to HC order. We will fully support Maratha reservation as final hearing in of January 5.” The Shiv Sena leader Diwakar Raote wondered, “ Why government could not present the case properly to ensure the justification of the reservation.” NCP chief spokesperson Nawab Malik argued, “If the court’s has stayed the reservation it raises question on how the matter was presented by government in court.”
Notwithstanding, the political posturing, leaders of Congress, NCP, Sena admit, “ The biggest hurdle ahead is to get the constitutional and legal sanction for the Maratha quota.”
The controversial Maratha reservation was pushed by the Congress-NCP government ahead of the crucial Maharashtra assembly elections with an objective to win over the support of Maratha community which constitute 30 per cent of the state population. After a major defeat in 2014, Lok Sabha elections, NCP president Sharad Pawar urged the state government to go ahead with reservation politics –Marathas and Muslims. Chavan government wa also blamed by NCP for not bringing the quota before the Lok Sabha polls.
Even when the Congress-NCP government gave its approval for Maratha quota, state legal department had expressed its objections arguing, “The decision may not withstand the constitutional and legal sanction.”
A senior officer on conditions of anonymity revealed to Indian Express, “ The Narayan Rane committee report which was the basis for pushing the Maratha reservation quota has inbuilt flaws. The survey appears an exercise undertaken in haste without adequately substantiating the data to prove what percentage of Marathas are economically backward or how they can be given the status of socially backward.”
According to Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of B R Ambedkar, “ The Congress-NCP government’s approval to Maratha reservation was to restore the confidence of Maratha community which was disenchanted with the ruling combine.” Ambedkar said, “ The fate of reservation was on expected lines and Marathas cannot be considered as socially or economically backward community in state.”
Interestingly, Maratha reservation has been discussed in the state and centre for last two decades. The successive Congress government in state have always used it to consolidate its vote base and also keep the dominant ruling class under its control.
In 2003-04, National Commission for Backward Classes rejected the demand for considering Maratha community in the category of “Other Backward Class” (OBC). Earlier, 1980 Mandal Commission had stated that Maratha community is a forward class in Maharashtra.
The Marathas who are equated as warrior caste “kshtriya” have dominated the state politics since 1960s, creation of Maharashtra. According to former state planning board chairman Ratnakar Mahajan said, “ I had from the very beginning indicated that Maratha reservation cannot withstand legal and constitutional approval. On what basis is the government to establish Marathas as socially backward community.” Mahajan believes, “ There are ways to address the issues related to economically and educational backward amongstcertain sections. But it cannot be justified under the reservation quota for the community.”
Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission findings of 2008 states, “Marathas are both economically and politically a forward caste. They had never faced social stigma to invite the backward class status.”
We will research court’s orders on the matter. Fonal hearing on January 5, Congress will intervene with full force in support of the decision. New government must clear their stand on the issue. Prithviraj Chavan on Bombay HC verdict on Maratha reservation.
HC judegement is worrying but we will ensure that Maratha reservation prevails at any cost. Requesting CM to call all party meeting urgently to decide future strategy on Maratha reservation.