33% quota in promotion for SC, ST: Congress, NCP not on same page
The differences between the three ruling parties over the issue of the reservation in promotion is expected to widen further as the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) seem to be firm on their stands. The Congress has been insisting to revoke the order that scrapped 33% reservation in promotions to employees from Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), Vimukta Jati and Nomadic Tribes (VJNT) and Special Backward Classes (SBC), while the NCP is reportedly in favour of scrapping the reservation.
On May 7, the state government issued an order scrapping reservation to these categories, citing an August 2017 Bombay high court (HC) order wherein the court had scrapped the state government’s decision taken in 2004 giving reservation in promotion. The state had, on April 20, issued an order to promote the employees by keeping the 33% quota intact. But the U-turn in just two weeks came in the backdrop of a Supreme Court order of quashing Maratha quota on May 5.
The move irked the Congress which took an aggressive stand and demanded revocation of the order. The state leadership of the party had also threatened to take aggressive stand if the reservation in promotion was not restored.
Congress leaders raised the issue in the state cabinet meeting on Thursday, demanding revocation of the May 7 order. However, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar intervened and told Congress leaders that the meeting of cabinet sub-committee on the subject has been scheduled for Tuesday and there was no need to discuss it in the cabinet. The sub-committee is headed by Pawar with other ministers being its members.
Upset over not being allowed to speak in the cabinet, energy minister Nitin Raut met chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and demanded immediate decision. Earlier in the day, senior Congress leaders and ministers Ashok Chavan, Balasaheb Thorat and Raut held a meeting to decide on the strategy.
However, Raut on Thursday said there was no question of dissent and the issue is expected to be resolved through discussion. “I met chief minister Thackeray at Varsha. He has assured us to take a decision over the reservation in the cabinet sub-committee meeting on Tuesday. We are firm on our stand,” he said.
Though Congress leaders are hell-bent over cancellation of the order, Pawar is reportedly against it. “The petition challenging 2017 HC ruling is pending in the Supreme Court. It has not asked to continue with the quota. Even the law and judiciary opinion on the subject is against reservation. In such a backdrop, it was not possible to implement the quota. Pawar is firm on implementation of the May 7 order,” said an NCP leader requesting anonymity.
Congress insiders said party leaders are not on the same page over the subject and that a few senior ministers disapproved of the aggressive stand taken by Raut and Patole.
The Congress had, on Tuesday, held a meeting of more than 500 people from SC, ST and VJNT communities and outfits to discuss the issue. In the meeting attended by Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole and Raut, party leaders announced to take extreme steps if the demand was not met. Patole had said, “We have conveyed our strong sentiments over the issue to the CM during our meeting with him and have warned him with drastic step. We may even think of outside support to the government protesting the decision,” he had said.
Raut and other Congress leaders have been seeking implementation of reservation as per the subsequent Supreme Court orders and an order of department of personnel and training of the union government. They claimed that some states and even the Centre have been implementing the quota.