Demand for 25 per cent education and job quota for the Marathas in the state may still be a distant possibility but the state government has said it was not averse to the idea of conducting a census of the community.
Chief Minister Ashok Chavan told representatives of the Maratha organisations that the proposal of 25 per cent reservations needed to be studied thoroughly.
When the leaders demanded to know the Marathas
population in the state, Chavan said he would not mind conducting a census of the community.
Chavan did not commit anything but he assured that the government was willing to help economically weaker sections of the community — especially in education —through government schemes. He said he would consult the Saraf Commission that is studying the issue.
The chief minister said if the existing schemes were not sufficient, the community leaders should help the government to formulate new ones.
Akhil Bharatiya Maratha Mahasangh president Shashikant Pawar told Hindustan Times that the independent census would dispel the misunderstanding that Marathas constituted major portion of the state's population.
"In fact, Marathas, who are in open category, are not very big community. But since the number of economically weaker Marathas is more, we want the government to offer them quota," said Pawar.
Pawar said Marathas wanted 25 per cent quota without disturbing the existing reservation module.
"We don't want political quota and we don't want benefit for the rich as well."
The state has 52 per cent quota, including that for the other backward classes.
The Maratha organisations argued that if states such as Tamil Nadu could have quota close to 70 per cent, Maharashtra should have no problem in doing so. Chavan asked bureaucrats to study the TN pattern.