Uproarious scenes were witnessed in the Maharashtra legislative council on Monday with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) members storming into the well of the House to demand a discussion on the issue of Scheduled Tribe status to Dhangar community.
The House was adjourned four times amid the ruckus, first for 20 minutes, then twice for 10 minutes each and later for 15 minutes.
The Dhangar community members have been seeking an ST tag after the Marathas were granted reservation in government jobs and educational institutions.
As soon as the House assembled on Monday, Leader of Opposition Dhananjay Munde said the demand for ST status to Dhangars was a serious issue and the government should answer why it failed to fulfil its poll promise.
"The BJP has time and again promised that they will provide Scheduled Tribe status to the people of Dhangar community. They came to power on the basis of this promise. Lakhs of Dhangar people voted for them only because they had promised that they will be accorded ST status during the first Cabinet meeting of the government," Munde said in the House.
He alleged that state tribal development minister Vishnu Savara had said that under Constitution, Dhangars cannot be provided reservation.
"When he himself says this, it shows the government is not serious about this issue. They have become hypocrites," Munde alleged.
Rashtriya Samaj Paksha (RSP) leader Mahadev Jankar, while replying to Munde, said chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had called a meeting of the officials concerned four days back which was "positive" on the issue. "For the last 65 years, they (the Dhangars) have not got justice. In 1997, we were the ones to take out the first morcha in front of Parliament in Delhi. I assure everybody that we are firm on our stand," Jankar said.
"The CM convened a meeting of the concerned officials just four days back and positive notes have emerged out of it. We want to avoid technical problems and hence, are not doing things hurriedly," he said.
State finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said the Congress and NCP had broken the trust of Dhangar community time and again and that they were now "shedding crocodile tears" to gain political points.
Amid chaos, Fadnavis urged the Opposition to let him speak and assured the House that the government was serious on providing the ST status to Dhangar community.
"This government from day one is serious about providing reservation to Dhangars. I am the CM. Please let me speak," he said to the agitated Opposition.
"After we came to power, we have had discussions with the Advocate General and tried to work out the technicalities of the issue. Why didn't you think about Dhangars when you were in power for 15 years? This question is not about you and me. Please do not politicise the issue," Fadnavis said.
Council Chairman Ramraje Nimbalkar then said the proceedings for the day should be carried out as per schedule, and he would meet the group leaders of all political parties to decide on a date for discussion on the issue of providing the ST status to Dhangars.