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Maratha stir: Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis calls special session to resolve issue

Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis said all cases against Maratha activists, who took part in the state-wide agitation earlier this week, will be withdrawn, barring those concerning attacks on police personnel, arson and violence.

india Updated: Jul 28, 2018 23:28 IST
Maratha,Maratha stir,Devendra Fadnavis
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis along with party leaders interact with the media after an all-party meeting to discuss the Maratha reservation issue, in Mumbai on Saturday, July 28, 2018. (PTI Photo)

After an all-party meeting on Saturday, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis extended an olive branch to the agitating Maratha groups and the Opposition by announcing that a special, two-day session of the state legislature would be held to discuss reservations for the Maratha community.

The session would be held after the Maharashtra State Backward Classes Commission (MSBCC) submits its report on the backwardness of the Maratha community. Fadnavis also said that the state would withdraw the cases against protesters except those booked for attacking police personnel and damaging property.

“We will call a special session of the state legislature to take call on providing reservation to the Maratha community. The decision in the special session will be taken based on the MSBCC recommendations made by in its report. The state government will examine the report before calling the session,” Fadnavis said.

Maratha outfits have been demanding withdrawal of cases. Shiv Sena and Opposition leaders have been suggesting the government call a special session.

Fadnavis also reiterated his earlier promise that the government will keep aside 16% of the 72,000 posts its administration intends to fill in the coming days. This was unacceptable to the community, which demanded recruitment for all 72,000 posts be put on hold until the Bombay high court (HC) comes to a decision regarding the backwardness and the legality of quota for them.

Virendra Pawar, a Maratha Kranti Morcha coordinator, said that Fadnavis’s announcement was tactical rather than a genuine attempt to resolve issues. “No one knows when MSBCC is going to submit its report and when special session will be called. Similarly, Fadnavis is saying that the cases will be withdrawn. In contrast, police is arresting thousands of Maratha youths and charging them with serious charges like section 307,” said Pawar.

Shiv Sena’s spokesperson Anil Parab, who is also the party’s leader in the Maharashtra Legislative Council, said, “The party pressed the chief minister to clear the legal hurdles to secure reservation. We also demanded that cases against Maratha youth, who were booked during agitation, should be withdrawn, and the mega recruitment drive of the state government should keep posts separate for the community till a decision is arrived at.”

Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, leader of Opposition in the state assembly, said the Opposition had attended the all-party meet to help maintain peace in the state, but it was not satisfied with the government’s efforts. “This exercise could have been done long back,” Vikhe Patil said.

Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar said Fadnavis could take a leaf out of Tamil Nadu’s playbook. “The state can pass a law and send it to the Centre to incorporate it in Article 31B of the Constitution, which is part of Schedule 9 and thus cannot be challenged in any court of law; just like Tamil Nadu, which has increased its reservation quota up to 69% against the SC ruling.”

Meanwhile, Congress and NCP have called separate meetings of their legislators Monday. They are also planning to meet the Governor to discuss calling a special session at the earliest.

First Published: Jul 28, 2018 21:34 IST