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Maratha community feel betrayed by BJP's stand on reservation: Congress

Maratha community feel betrayed by BJP's stand on reservation: Congress
(Image Credit: Twitter)

The Congress in Maharashtra Monday demanded the Maratha community be given reservation in jobs and education under the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category, a day after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced a separate category for the purpose.

On the first day of the winter session of the state legislature here, the Congress raised the demand for reservation for the Dhangar (Shepherd) community and Muslims even as it termed "ambiguous" the government's stand on the Maratha quota.

"The government's stand on the Maratha quota is ambiguous. The Marathas, Dhangars and Muslims are feeling betrayed by the government's stand," Leader of Opposition in the state Legislative Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil told reporters on the premises of legislature complex.

Earlier in the day, the legislative assembly and council were adjourned for the day after paying tributes to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who died in Delhi in August this year. Before the start of the proceedings in Lower House, the Opposition members staged a protest on the steps of Vidhan Bhavan demanding free electricity for farmers affected by drought.

They also raised the issues of "poor implementation" of the farm loan waiver, which was announced by the state government last year, and demanded separate quotas for Muslims and the Dhangar community.

The Maharashtra government Sunday announced the Maratha community will be granted quota under a new category called 'Socially and Educationally Backward Class' (SEBC) as per the recommendation of the State Backward Class Commission. The government is yet to decide the quantum of reservation, though the Marathas are seeking 16 per cent quota.

"The assurance of chief minister Devendra Fadnavison accepting the recommendation of the State Backward Class Commission(SBCC) and providing reservation to Marathas under the SEBC category is not enough," said Vikhe Patil. He said the state government should have created a sub-category under the OBCgrouping without hurting their existing reservation and provided 16 per cent quota to Marathas.

"The Maratha community had organised 58 peaceful protest marches for the quota demand. Nearly 40 people became martyrs for the cause. Still, the community has not got justice," alleged the Congress leader.

He contended that the Maratha community would not get the benefit of reservation in administrative service in the Central government, as they are not classified under the OBC group. "Marathas won't even be able to contestgram panchayat elections (due to their classification under SEBC). The government has also not announced the exact quantum of Maratha quota. This means the intentions of the government are not clear," said the leader of the opposition

He said the Opposition is willing to support the government on the issue of reservation, but the ruling dispensation lacked the willpower to implement quota. Vikhe Patil also accused the chief minister of taking a "U-turn" on the issue of granting reservation to the Dhangar community under Scheduled Tribe (ST) category. "Before the assembly elections in 2014, the BJP had promised that the Dhangar community would be granted quota in the first Cabinet meeting itself of the new government.

"However, the CM is now saying that granting quota to the community falls under the jurisdiction of the Central government," he said. Vikhe Patil also said the erstwhile Congress government had given 5 per cent reservation to Muslims, which was upheld by the High Court. "The government is silent on reservations for Muslims and Lingayats. The government's stand on social reservations is highly suspicious," he said.

Earlier in the day, the Shiv Sena members also shouted slogans on the Vidhan Bhavanpremises demanding reservation for the Marathas under OBC category. As soon as the Assembly proceedings began, the Opposition members demanded that they are allowed to speak on various issues. Assembly Speaker Haribhau Bagade rejected Vikhe-Patil's request to speak on an adjournment notice.

"Today, we have to take up the condolence motion so there will be no adjournment notices," he said. In a break from convention, Mumbai is hosting the winter session of the state legislature for the first time since 1961. The winter session has traditionally been held in Nagpur, the second capital of Maharashtra.

For the first time in several decades, the monsoon session of the state legislature was held in Nagpur this year.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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