The Maratha agitation has gained steam in the last month
The Maratha agitation has gained steam in the last month

Giving in to the pressure from the ongoing Maratha agitation, the state government on Thursday announced a tuition fee waiver for the economically weaker section by revising the EBC (economically backward concession) for the Maratha community, as well as all other communities that earlier did not get such a benefit.

Devendra Fadnavis
Devendra Fadnavis

Appeasing the Marathas
The CM’s decision was timed to appease the Marathas, who were upset that the affidavit demanding a quota for them in education and jobs could not be filed in the Bombay High Court on Thursday. It was highlighted rather pointedly as Devendra Fadnavis attended the press conference accompanied by four Maratha ministers — Chandrakant Patil, Vinod Tawde (both BJP), Eknath Shinde and Subhash Desai (both Sena).

Sources said that the CM had an inkling that the affidavit would be delayed — either due to interveners or by its own legal team — so he convened a weekly Cabinet meeting on Thursday to make the announcement immediately after the court gave the state and others four weeks’ time for the next hearing.

However, senior Shiv Sena leader, Neelam Gorhe, insisted that the credit should go to the Aditya Thackeray-led Yuva Sena, saying that the Sena had planned a morcha to make the same demand in the coming week.

What’s the revision?
Revising the EBC is entirely in the hands of the state government so it does not need the court’s approval. The Marathas, who belong to the open category, have been demanding a revision of EBC as earlier, the income limit for EBC was Rs 1 lakh, and students (OBCs, special backward class and VJNT) who availed of the previous scheme could get 50 per cent of tuition fee reimbursed. The new scheme, too, would make students eligible for 50 per cent fee reimbursement. However, the revision of EBC parameters will now allow students belonging to Maratha and other castes a fee waiver/scholarship if their family’s annual income is Rs 6 lakh or below. The only condition: the beneficiary should have 60 per cent marks in eligibility examinations to seek a higher or professional course. Those with an annual family income of Rs 2.5 lakh or below, though, will not be subjected to any cap. “The concession will extend to both government and private colleges,” said Fadnavis, adding, “This scheme has been named after a Maratha King, late Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj, who had pioneered a quota system in the pre-independence era.”

Apart from this, the CM also announced three other schemes. “More than seven lakh students will benefit from all of the schemes,” said Fadnavis.