Government forced to bow down to Marathas: Maharashtra CM at event

Devendra Fadnavis admitted his government was compelled to pacify the politically-influential community, after they had resorted to state-wide protests in the last two years.

mumbai Updated: Feb 12, 2018 00:18 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Devendra Fadnavis,Maharashtra,Chief Minister
At the event, the CM also felicitated several members of the community, including athlete Lalita Babar, for their contributions in different fields.(HT PHOTO)

After being up in arms against the state government on fulfilling their demands especially the one related to reservations, signs of a thaw can be seen between the organisers of the Maratha protests and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

On Sunday, Chief Minister (CM) Devendra Fadnavis officiated as a chief guest at the Maratha Sanman Sohola - 2018, an event organised by the Sakal Maratha Samaj (SMS), the umbrella body of various Maratha community organisations, held at Kaamgar Maidan, Parel. At the event, Fadnavis felicitated prominent personalities from the Maratha community, including Indian athlete Lalita Babar, for their commendable contributions to various fields.

In a telling comment, the CM said that his government had bowed down before the Maratha community, after having witnessed mass agitation by them, across Maharashtra. Fadnavis said that the government was compelled to take several measures like offering fee reimbursements and scholarships, to pacify the Maratha youth.

“Just like the nature bowed down before Lord Krishna after viewing his gigantic form, the state government too bowed down before the Maratha community after they went on a mass agitation,” the chief minister said at the event.

The BJP-led state government is clearly making all attempts to prevent the Maratha community from going on agitations again. The Maratha community makes up for 32 per cent of the state’s population, and is a politically- influential community in Maharashtra. Members of the community organised silent protests in 2016 and 2017, demanding reservations in government jobs and education. Their other demands included the dilution of the Atrocity Act, following the rape and brutal murder of a minor girl from the Maratha community at Kopardi in Ahmednagar district on July 13, 2016.

The protests had stirred the Maharashtra political cauldron for several months in the last two years. Rattled by their last rally held in Mumbai in August 2017, the CM promised the Marathas fee reimbursement scheme, interest-free loans up to Rs10 lakh for self-employment, Rs5 crore to each district for the construction of hostels, and setting up of a district-wise committee to decide on cases filed under the Atrocities Act. The fee reimbursement scheme has been implemented by the government, but the rest of the demands are yet to be fulfilled.

The CM in his speech also said the government has already given much more than what the community would get once reservations in government jobs and education comes into effect.

“The Maratha community will get reservations, for which the government is fighting in the court. But we have already started the fee reimbursement scheme in 605 educational courses for the community. Reservations would have benefitted some thousands of students, but the fee reimbursement scheme has begun to benefit lakhs of students from the community,” he said.

While the Maratha community is waiting for its demands to be implemented, the government has been facing backlash from the Other Backward Classes (OBC) and Dalit groups, as they oppose reservations for the Marathas and the dilution of the Atrocity Act.

First Published: Feb 12, 2018 00:17 IST