Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, responding to a question on the possibility of a Marathi becoming Prime Minister by 2050, Friday said: “Marathis have ruled the length and breadth of the country, up to Attock, in different periods of history. I am sure they stand the chance of prime ministership too.”
Fadnavis made this remark during a public interview at the inaugural session of the 16th Jagatik Marathi Sammelan (World Marathi Conference) in Nagpur. Union Minister and Nagpur MP Nitin Gadkari too attended the conference but had left the venue when Fadnavis made the remark. Congress leader and former Union Minister Sushilkumar Shinde was the chief guest.
Earlier, Gadkari said: “It is necessary to guard Marathi identity along with national identity and both are complementary.”
In the public interview, conducted in Marathi by Nagpur builder Ashutosh Shewalkar and poet Ramdas Futane, Fadnavis was also asked about the “change of guard from Narendra to Devendra”. At this, he told Shewalkar “till this moment, I thought you were my well-wisher. Not anymore”.
To another query on caste and reservation, said: “It is true that consciousness about caste identity owes a lot to reservation but reservation is helpful only for job opportunities provided by the government. And such opportunities are only 10 per cent of the total. Once the younger generation realises this, consciousness about caste identity will wither away to a great extent.”
On the role of political parties in caste politics, the CM said: “Considering the demographics of our country today, where 65 per cent of the population is below the age of 40 and 45 per cent below 25 years, the expectation of ‘here and now’ is only set to grow. And those opportunities will be available outside the government. Of course, it is also true that reservation still lends some sense of empowerment to many of them.”
“Denoting caste in government certificates will have to stay as long as we have to base reservation and other benefits on caste since most disadvantaged people are from backward sections of the society,” he said.