Maratha quota: Outfits led by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s descendant present 3 demands
A group of Maratha outfits led by Rajya Sabha member Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati has warned of an “aggressive agitation” from June 6 if the Maharashtra government fails to take immediate steps to ensure that the community gets reservation in government jobs and admissions to educational courses.
Community leaders have demanded a review petition in the top court followed by a curative petition, if the former fails, as well as a petition before the President for the inclusion of the community in the Centre’s list of ‘backward castes’.
Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati, a descendent of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, in a press conference on Friday, said, “We are putting forward three demands that should immediately be met. The state government should immediately move a review petition before the five-judge bench which had struck down the reservation earlier this month. A curative petition should also be filed, if the review petition fails. Thirdly, a proposal should be sent to the President under Article 341 (A) of the Constitution for the inclusion of the community in the Central list of backward classes. These demands should be fulfilled by June 6 – the day the coronation ceremony of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj had taken place. Failing this, we will launch protests.”
Before announcing the community stand, Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati had visited many parts of the state and met various political leaders across party lines, including Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, chief minister and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, leader of Opposition and Bharatiya Janata Party Devendra Fadnavis, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray.
Various Maratha outfits have backed Sambhajiraje’s stand and have decided to fight under his leadership.
“We have decided to take up this battle under his guidance. We will show our strength at Fort Raigad [that was once Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s capital] on June 6 and an aggressive protest will begin from there if the demands are not met,” said Virendra Pawar of Maratha Kranti Morcha.
Sambhaji Chhatrapati also demanded the immediate appointment of 6,000 Maratha community youth whose recruitments had been stalled following the Supreme Court’s decision to scrap the Maratha quota on May 5. He has demanded for the budgetary allocation for Annasaheb Patil Financial Development Corporation, which finances the entrepreneurial ventures of the community members; strengthening of SARTHI (Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj Research Training and Human Development Institute), meant to help community youth for the preparations in civil services, by giving it ₹1,000 crore; construction of hostels in all districts, among other demands.
Deputy chief minister and state finance minister Ajit Pawar said that the government will consider the demands positively. “We still have time of eight to 10 days to act on the demands and a way out will be found out,” he said.
According to leaders of the ruling parties, the demands raised by the parliamentarian are reasonable.
“We have been working on the same lines as demanded by him for the legal battle. The report of the committee under retired high court judge Dilip Bhosale is expected by May 31, and the decision over the petitioning the top court will be taken accordingly. The implementation of the other administrative demands has already started,” said a Congress leader.
Contrary to the position of his party BJP, Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati has taken a stand favourable to the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government by appealing to the community members against resorting to agitations. BJP had called for protests for reservation to Marathas.
“If the Maratha community fails to get on the streets and stage agitations for reservation now, it will be too late [to safeguard their rights]. Life has not stopped because of Covid-19. The state has got time till June 4 to file a review petition against the SC verdict. This deadline will not be extended due to the pandemic,” state BJP president Chandrakant Patil had said in Kolhapur on Thursday.
According to insiders, the Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati is inclining towards the ruling Congress. Ruling party leaders feel that his stand will help them to pacify the Maratha community.