Maha: Opposition halts house proceedings, demands quota for Maratha, Dhangar
Proceedings of the Maharashtra Assembly were paralysed on Monday following demands by the opposition for tabling reports recommending quota for the Maratha and Dhangar (shepherd) communities in the state.
The Lower House witnessed five adjournments before it was adjourned for the day as the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) members remained adamant on their demand and stalled the proceedings.
Amid the din, the Chair rushed through the day's agenda of passing some bills and supplementary demands. The opposition members were on their feet, demanding to the table of the State Backward Class Commission's report on the Maratha quota issue and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences' (TISS) report on quota for the Dhangar community.
Earlier, when Speaker Haribhau Bagde called for the Question Hour, Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil asked why the government was "running away" from a debate in the House on the State Backward Class Commission's recommendations over the Maratha quota issue.
The state government had last week announced that the Maratha community will be granted quota under a new category called the Socially and Educationally Backward Class (SEBC), as per the recommendation of the State Backward Class Commission.
Vikhe Patil said the TISS also submitted its report on quota for the Dhangar community and that the reservation for Muslims in education was upheld by the high court.
"We want the government to announce its stand on reservation for Muslims and table the reports on quota for Marathas and Dhangars in the House for discussion," he said.
He accused the government of not allowing Maratha organisations to hold protests in Mumbai over the demand for tabling the Backward Class Commission's report in the House. NCP leader Ajit Pawar also supported the demand.
However, Revenue minister Chandrakant Patil rejected the allegation that the government was preventing Maratha organisations from holding protests.
"We just said that today is a sensitive day in Mumbai since it is the anniversary of the 26/11 terror attack. We told them to consider postponing the protest by a day in view of the law and order situation," Patil said.
He also said that there was no need of protests since the government had accepted the recommendations of providing reservation to Marathas under the socially and educationally backward category.
"The reservation will be given within the legal and constitutional framework without hurting the existing quota," the minister said.
"All backward communities among Muslims are given reservation under the Other Backward Classes category. If more cases need to be added, the State Backward Class Commission should be approached," he said.
Pawar objected to the minister's comments, saying the court had accepted reservation for Muslims in education.
BJP leader Ashish Shelar then questioned why the Congress and the NCP had not tabled the Rane committee's report on Maratha quota in the Assembly when the two parties were in power.
Shelar accused the two opposition parties of shedding "crocodile tears" over the issue. Following the uproar, the House was first adjourned for 10 minutes and later till the end of the Question Hour. When the House reassembled, the Chair took up laying of the annual report of the Maharashtra Forest Development Corporation and the Maharashtra Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Science University in Nagpur. The Public Accounts Committee's (PAC) report was also tabled.
The Chair also rushed through the supplementary demands of revenue, forest, industries, energy, labour and public works departments, which were later passed by a voice vote.
Bills to amend the Maharashtra Value Added Tax Act, GST Act, Maharashtra Municipal Corporation and Municipal Council, Nagar Panchayat and Industrial Township (Amendment) Act and Maharashtra Educational Institutions (Regulation of Fee) Act were also passed.
When the Chair asked Vikhe Patil to initiate a debate on the supplementary demands, he said the government must first clarify on reports over the quota issue before continuing with the proceedings.
However, as the uproar continued, the House was again adjourned for 15 minutes. When the House reassembled, the opposition members squatted on its floor.
NCP leader Jayant Patil said they were protesting against the passage of supplementary demands in a hurry and demanded that they are withdrawn.
Parliamentary Affairs minister Girish Bapat invited the opposition leaders for talks in the speaker's chamber.
Later, Education Minister Vinod Tawde asked Ajit Pawar and Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan to join the talks. Later, the opposition criticised the government for passing the supplementary demands amid noisy scenes and squatted on the floor of the House.
Bapat said the demands which were passed will be taken up for discussion Tuesday. Vikhe Patil again demanded to know the status of the Maratha and Dhangar quota reports. Jayant Patil wondered if the government was not sure of the reports as it feared they could be challenged in court.
Pawar said the government has received reports on quota for both the Marathas and Dhangars.
(With inputs from agencies.)
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