A DAY after the Maharahtra cabinet extended the EWS (Economically Weaker Section) benefits to the Maratha community, Rajya Sabha MP Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati slammed the move, saying it will weaken the case seeking reservation for the community, pending before the Supreme Court.
“What was the hurry to extend the EWS benefit when the case is still pending in the Supreme Court ? The government could have waited till the Supreme Court gives its final verdict on January 25, or after that,” said Sambhajiraje.
He said he had attended a video-conference with state PWD Minister Ashok Chavan, who heads the cabinet sub-committee on reservation, Labour Minister Dilip Walse-Patil, prominent leaders of the Maratha community and government lawyers fighting the case. “During the conference, the government lawyers pointed out that the Maratha community should not be given EWS benefit at this stage as the SEBC (Socially and Educationally Backward Class) quota hearing was pending in court. The lawyers said the government should not make EWS quota a policy…When the government lawyers themselves argued against it, what was the need for the government to extend the EWS benefit to the Maratha community,” he said.
“In case the Supreme Court rules against granting reservation to Maratha community, the government could have then extended EWS benefit to the community,” he added.
Defending the state’s move, Chavan said, “If we do not extend the EWS benefit, we are blamed. If we do it, we are still blamed… but one thing is clear, we are determined to ensure reservation to the Maratha community.”
Supporting Sambhajiraje’s views, Rajendra Kondhare, one of the coordinators of the Maratha Kranti Morcha, which is spearheading the community’s agitation for reservation, said, “We had demanded creation of supernumerary posts. Instead, the government has gone for EWS, which will affect our chances of getting reservation under the SEBC Act. EWS and SEBC are two different entities. The Supreme Court will question as to how come one community is getting benefits under two different categories… the move is untimely and uncalled for at this juncture.”
Kondhare said the state advocate general was also against extending EWS benefit to the Maratha community. “We need to find out whether these top experts have changed their view on EWS…or the government buckled under pressure from certain quarters.”
However, Pravin Gaikwad, one of the coordinators of the Maratha Kranti Morcha, said, “I welcome the government move to extend EWS benefit to the Maratha community….But I want to stress on a point… that the Maratha community should prepare itself to face challenges rather than seek reservation and government services.”
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