Addressing more than 1,000 mathadis (load bearers) from across Maharashtra on the occasion of the 83rd birth anniversary celebrations of the late mathadi leader Annasaheb Patil, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday assured the mathadis of affordable homes, schools and hospitals.
“The prosperity of any state depends on the condition of mathadis. Our government will take measures to ensure the prosperity of this group,” he said while speaking at the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) at Vashi. Fadnavis became the second chief minister of the saffron alliance — after Sena’s Manohar Joshi — to attend the mathadi gathering, predominantly a Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) stronghold.
Narendra Patil, a member of legislative council and mathadi union leader had put forth demands for affordable housing, hospitals, schools and changes in labour laws for mathadis.
“I was informed about the issues raised by Narendra Patil over the phone and have asked officials to start working to ensure that the demands are fulfilled,” said Fadnavis. “We will provide housing to mathadis from Pune, Nashik, Aurangabad and Navi Mumbai, similar to how those of Sholapur were given affordable homes.We will approve this scheme in the next 15 days and send it to the PMO within a month.”
Patil spoke highly of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Fadnavis at the event, saying he would consider the plight of Mathadis and take action. The increasing proximity of Fadnavis to Patil has led to people to question whether the entire event was an effort to woo a vote bank that has traditionally been a bastion of the NCP, cultivated personally by party chief Sharad Pawar. Fadnavis also said he would revive the Annasaheb Development Corporation to foster training the youth of this community.
“Education brings in positive changes. There are many young people who are keen on pursuing professional courses. However, they either don’t secure admission or the fees are high. Hence, we will try to ensure low fees in government colleges so that students can get an equal opportunity,” added Fadnavis.
The chief minister formed a committee to reform the mathadi law. He said that officials will submit findings within three months, based on which, changes will be made. The CM also discussed the issue of maratha reservation. “Our government has put forward aproposal. I request the organisers [of this event] to talk about the issue,” he said.