A day after the Union cabinet approved the caste census, leaders from other backward classes (OBCs) said they would now demand political reservations for OBCs in the Parliament and state Assemblies.
However, if the reservations were to be granted, they would create turmoil in the Maratha-dominated political scenario in the state.
Traditionally, leaders from the Maratha community have dominated Maharashtra politics.
Most chief ministers of the state and a large number of ministers have been Marathas.
According to Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, who was instrumental in pushing for a caste census, said on Friday that the Mandal Commission had recommended political reservation for OBCs.
“But, the government did not implement it. I think it’s time that we (OBCs) demand it once the census results are out,” said Bhujbal.
The OBC and Maratha leaders are already on a collision course, as the latter too are demanding reservations in jobs, education and government schemes, but they do not want political reservation.
The OBCs, who have a 27 per cent reservation in the state, fear that the Marathas would eat into their share. The Maratha leaders, however, have accused Bhujbal of opposing their demand.
“I don’t understand why they paint me as a villain. They can approach the commission that has been set up to study similar demands,” said the deputy CM, adding that neither he nor any other OBC leader has opposed the inclusion of 100 more castes to the state’s OBC list in the past 19 years. “Marathas may also try their luck.”
According to political analyst Surendra Jondhale, the demand by OBC leaders is politically suicidal as more constituencies are becoming urban, where the population is mixed.
“After delimitation, the constituencies (Parliament and Assembly) have shifted to urban areas where a mixed population casts votes. I would rather see OBCs win more seats in the unreserved (open) constituencies,” said Jondhale.
Maratha Mahasangh president Shashikant Pawar said political reservation was never a top priority for Marathas. “We want our economically weaker sections to benefit.”
Even, Jondhale feels the Maratha stand is justified. “They never faced a political crisis in Maharashtra. In fact, their numbers in the Assembly were more when Shiv Sena and BJP came to power a decade ago,” said Jondhale.