At a time when the BJP-led Maharashtra government is cornered by the state-wide Maratha agitation over quota, senior leader Nitin Gadkari on Thursday taunted Opposition leaders for fuelling caste politics for their own personal gains.
Speaking at the closing of the two-day state executive committee session of the BJP in Mumbai, Union minister Gadkari said, “Some leaders who have never done anything for the betterment of castes while being in the government remember it when they are not in power. They want the caste backing only to get power. The BJP’s stand is clear. Making the poor its focal point, the government wants to create a prosperous country where nobody will need to ask for reservations.”
Senior leaders across Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), especially NCP chief Sharad Pawar, have criticised the state government for the growing unrest among the Marathas and said that the widespread protests are a sign of dissent against the government. The Marathas, comprising 32% of the state’s population, have been demanding reservations in education and government jobs and a review of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, alleging its misuse.
BJP leaders have alleged that Maratha political leaders, many of whom are from NCP, are tacitly organising the protests.
On Thursday, Gadkari also said that the Union government has decided to observe 2016, being the centennial year of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay’s birth anniversary, as the year for the welfare of the poor.
“A poor person ... does not have any caste,” the senior leader from Nagpur added.
Despite its committed to working towards a prosperous, reservation-free country, the BJP passed a formal resolution supporting quotas for the Maratha. State BJP chief Raosaheb Danve said, “Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and I made the BJP’s stand clear. The committee unanimously approved the resolution supporting Maratha reservations.The chief minister had held a meeting with Opposition leaders regarding this. The BJP will welcome any suggestions from anyone that can be helpful towards lifting the stay on Maratha reservations and ensuring it stands in the court of law.”
Danve also sounded upbeat about the upcoming elections to 10 municipal corporations, and several municipal councils and district panchayats, saying, “The Union and state governments have done good work, which has earned a strong response from the public. There should not be any problem in emerging successful in the upcoming elections.” The party has also planned a special drive to publicise the state government’s work with the Fadnavis-led government completing the two-year mark on October 31.