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Friday, Sep 20, 2019

Tough task for BJP govt to clear Maratha reservationa

Fadnavis on Friday reiterated his government’s commitment to the issue of reservation and said they would move the SC if required. If the BJP govt, has to deliver on this promise, it will have to start from scratch.

india Updated: Nov 15, 2014 00:30 IST
Ketaki Ghoge
Ketaki Ghoge
Hindustan Times

How does one identify a community that has dominated state politics since the ’60s, controlled more than half of its rich sugar cooperatives and educational institutes as socially backward? That is the conundrum before the new BJP government that finds itself inheriting yet another bad decision taken by the Congress-NCP.

On Friday, as the Bombay high court stayed the 16% reservation for Marathas in government jobs and educational institutes, many in the BJP government agreed with the judgment. When the Congress-NCP government had cleared the reservation by issuing an ordinance, most of them, including chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, had termed the move as ‘untenable in law’.

Given that the BJP has backed the reservation for political dividends, Fadnavis on Friday reiterated his government’s commitment to the issue and said they would move the apex court if required. If the BJP government, however, has to deliver on this promise, it will have to start from scratch.

“In their haste to clear the decision before the polls, the Congress-NCP government botched up the issue completely. The Rane committee report, which is the basis of the reservation request, is at fault. However, we are willing to amend the existing law or draft a new one and approach the Apex court to ensure the reservation stays,’’ said HRD minister Vinod Tawde.

Socio-economic data gathered in the Narayan Rane committee was used to back the reservation. However, the report is full of loopholes — starting with the validity of the committee.

“The committee was set up to study the earlier Bapat commission, but it went well beyond its brief. Its validity is under question. The government had neither accepted nor rejected the earlier report for four years and junked it at the last minute. No court will accept such a half-baked report that is contrary to the previous four backward class commission reports and does not have a recommendation from the commission,’’ said a senior bureaucrat.

The main shortcoming, however, was that the panel carried out a survey among only 10% of the community and allegedly completed it in 10 days. While the report focused on poverty and educational backwardness among Marathas, it could not prove social backwardness. Official data shows Marathas currently occupy 15% government jobs in the open category. Till 2004, more than 50% of the state’s legislators were Marathas, 86 sugar factories and half of the educational institutes in the state were controlled by Marathas.

There are also allegations the report hiked the population of the community from 16% of the state populace to 32%.

“First the BJP government will have to get a recommendation from the backward class commission. It will have to undertake a fresh socio-economic survey of the community or introduce reservation under the head of economically backward class,’’ said an official from the backward class panel.

Rane chose to blame the BJP government for failing to represent the case well in the court. The claim was refuted by the BJP, which said the case was argued while the Congress-NCP government was still in power.

While the BJP is unlikely to take up the case for Muslim reservation that was also stayed in government jobs, Congress is likely to push for it and file a case in the matter.

First Published: Nov 14, 2014 22:19 IST