While they are in favour of Maratha reservation, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ministers in the state government are not keen on giving reservation to the Muslim community in government jobs.
In the run-up to the Assembly elections, the previous Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) government had provided 16% reservation to the Maratha community in jobs and education and 5% reservation for the Muslim community. However, in response to a clutch of petitions, the Bombay high court (HC) in November stayed the reservation, as the state government did not make a strong case while taking the decision. It, however, upheld the decision to give 5% reservation to the Muslim community in education.
Following the HC decision, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis held an all-party meeting on November 15 and announced the government would challenge the ruling in the Supreme Court. Accordingly, the government filed a special leave petition in the apex court on December 4. It also lined up two bills to put up before the legislature in connection with providing reservation to the Maratha and Muslim communities in the ongoing session of state legislature.
However, the BJP ministers in the government are now wary of pushing for reservation for the Muslim community.
“There is a strong opposition to this move from within our party. Some ministers are of the view that we should not pitch for reservation for Muslims in jobs, as our party has been accusing the Congress of minority appeasement,” said a senior BJP minister.
The BJP had criticised the decision to give reservation to Muslims when the Congress-NCP government announced it ahead of the elections, he pointed out. Fadnavis had then said the BJP was opposed to reservation on grounds of religion.
The BJP ministers are worried about the voters’ reaction. “It will look like we are doing a U-turn,” said another senior minister.
“CM Fadnavis had assured in an all-party meeting that the government would continue with previous government’s stand on both Maratha and Muslim reservation. We are hopeful the government will challenge the HC decision,” said Congress legislator Naseem Khan, who was the minority affairs minister in the previous government.