Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has accepted two of the four demands made by the Save Merit Save Nation (SMSN) movement — a separate development corporation for open category people and increase in the number of seat intake for educational institutes, to compensate for the reduction in seats for open category due to increase in overall percentage of reservation.
The two demands were included in the BJP’s manifesto announced on Tuesday. At a poll rally in his Nagpur South-West constituency, Fadnavis on Wednesday declared that the government had already taken a decision to form a separate financial development corporation for open category people and would soon roll it out.
Speaking to The Indian Express, SMSN president Sanjay Deshpande said, “We had demanded inclusion of four demands in the manifesto. They have included two. The other two were having a separate open category for admission and equal opportunity to all categories. We will continue our movement for them.”
Asked to elaborate on the third demand, Deshpande said, “Many reservation category students secure admissions in the open category. This effectively reduces open category intake by about six more per cent. This needs to be stopped.”
The SMSN movement was born in Nagpur in April, with its members agitating for ‘justice’ for open category students. The movement was triggered by the row over medical admissions quota.
“Our basic demand is that reservation be restricted to 50 per cent. We will continue to fight for that demand,” said Deshpande.
Recently, there was a split in the organisation over voting in the elections. While a group led by Deshpande maintains that the movement should remain apolitical and members should vote “as per their conscience”, the other group, led by Anil Laddhad, has called upon its members to press the NOTA button.
While SMSN is often perceived as a movement spurred by the RSS, Deshpande refuted the allegation. “It is wrong to label it as such. There are people from all walks of life and leanings. To say that those intending to cast a vote for a party of choice are RSS people and those wanting to press NOTA button are Congress supporters is wrong,” he said.