The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in state is likely to announce setting up of a State Backward Class Commission to consider various demands for providing reservation in government jobs and education including that by the Maratha community.
As the Opposition continued to raise the issue of demonetisation, the ruling side on Wednesday initiated debate on the issue of Maratha community’s demand for reservation. The motive behind the move is to counter the Opposition parties that are trying to corner the BJP government.
The BJP is also trying to convince the Maratha community that the Congress-NCP were responsible for their problems while the former’s government is taking efforts to meet their demands. Sources said Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is likely to announce formation of SBCC in his reply to the debate on Thursday. The commission, which is headed by a sitting or retired high court judge, considers demands of various communities and groups for reservation in government jobs and education. The demand by the Maratha community would be put before the commission after its constitution, said the sources. If the commission recommends reservation for Maratha community (which the government believes it will) the same would become a strong ground for the state government in the Bombay high court, which is hearing a petition on the same. The HC has already stayed the previous Congress-NCP government’s decision to reserve 16% quota in government jobs and education for Maratha community.
However, the last two commissions led by retired judges R M Bapat and R H Bhatia had refuted demand for reservation to the Maratha community. So there are doubts if the commission set up by this government can rule in favour of the quota. However, by setting up the commission, the government will get time to deflect the ongoing protests by the community and get time until the commission submits its report.
In the assembly, the debate was initiated by BJP legislator Ashish Shelar, who demanded that the government should constitute the SBCC immediately and present the proposal for Maratha reservation before it. He also demanded setting up of a State Agriculture Commission and provide free crop insurance to Maratha farmers. The debate will continue on Thursday and Fadnavis is expected to reply to the same. The Maratha community ghas planned a massive protest march on December 14 in Nagpur where the winter session of the state legislature is in progress.