Maratha outfits turn down Maharashtra government’s decision to extend EWS quota to community, vow to intensify protests
Maratha outfits have decided to intensify their ongoing protest, demanding the restoration of reservation for its community members in jobs and education. Protests will be staged from today onwards in different parts of Maharashtra and will continue into the first week of October.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court (SC) had stayed the implementation of the law granting reservation to Marathas and referred the matter to a larger constitutional bench. Turning down the state government’s decision to bring Marathas under the 10% quota for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS), community leaders have decided to raise the issue politically and stage protests outside residences of members of Parliament (MPs) and legislators.
On Saturday, dozens of Maratha outfits under the aegis of Sakal Maratha Kranti Morcha held a day-long conference in Nashik. Among those who spoke were Bharatiya Janata Party MP and Maratha leader Chhatrapati Sambhaji Raje; former member of legislative council (MLC) Narendra Patil; Maratha Mahasangh’s Rajendra Kondhare and legal experts. Starting today, Maratha outfits will stage a dharna outside the offices of all prominent political parties in Pune. Between October 5 and October 10, protests will be held outside residences of legislators and at the offices of tehsil and district collectors.
Kondhare said, “We have decided to turn down the government’s decision to bring us under the EWS quota as it does not serve any purpose. Our immediate demand is that the state government should immediately safeguard the interest of our youths who have secured admissions or government jobs under SEBC reservation stayed by the top court. Secondly, the schemes which are being shown as earmarked for the community are old ones and meant for other communities too. The state government can add 12% more seats in admissions to secure the quota for students from the community.”
Karan Gaykar of Sakala Maratha Kranti Morcha said, “We want MLAs [members of the legislative assembly] and MPs from the state to raise this issue at the appropriate forum by writing to the President, Prime Minister, Governor and chief minister. It is the responsibility of the state and Central government to ensure the stay on the reservation is vacated at the earliest. We are also planning to hold a protest rally in Delhi if we do not get the expected response.”
The Maratha community has said the government’s decision to extend the EWS quota to them – announced on Tuesday – to them serves no purpose. The state has also announced other socio-economic schemes that would be made available to the community once Marathas were diverted to the EWS category.
State minister Ashok Chavan, who heads a Cabinet sub-committee on the Maratha reservation issue, said the state government is fighting the legal battle and Maratha outfits should appreciate its efforts. “Bringing the community under EWS was the only option readily available before the state government. The community should understand this is a temporary arrangement done by us until the stay is vacated by the Apex Court. The protests cannot be against the government as the decision was given by the court and various Maratha outfits too were interveners in the petition against reservation, which was stayed. We have been taking all the outfits, political parties and their leaders into confidence in our battle. We expect the stay to be vacated by the SC at the earliest,” said Chavan.
The Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act 2018 gives reservation of 12% and 13% in employment and admissions respectively to the Maratha community. On September 9, a three-judge bench of SC stayed the implementation of this reservation for the year 2020-21 and transferred the matter to a five-judge constitutional bench. Following this, on Tuesday, the state Cabinet allowed the Maratha community to be eligible for the EWS quota of 10 %, which was implemented by the Central government last year.