Did you know? The OBC department is already open
CM Devendra Fadnavis
It took six months since the new department to aid the other backward classes (OBC), special backward classes (SBC), and denotified and nomadic tribes was granted cabinet approval, but Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has finally stepped in to ensure that it is up and running in the coming two weeks.
However, for practical purposes, this department — split from the social justice department to especially tackle issues plaguing these communities — has already begun partial operations from Mantralaya, currently under the additional charge of Dinesh Waghmare, also heading the social justice department.
People still unaware
The first notification came in March, while the second in April, instructing that the department starts functioning in April itself. On Tuesday, taking it further, the CM instructed that all the teething troubles be tackled hands on, so that the people, who are currently unaware of its existence and are still routing files through social justice department, start benefiting from this new department.
Speaking to mid-day, Fadnavis said a notification was issued recently. "The department has started working, and as of now, social justice department's in-charge Waghmare has been given its additional charge. It will be a full-fledged unit very soon," he said. He added that a full-time secretary would also be appointed soon.
However, sources said that even as Fadnavis himself heads the new department and has started clearing files, it is unlikely he will hand over the department to anyone else before it starts functioning smoothly.
Need for department
The new department was one of the fallouts of the Maratha reservation agitation. At the time, the OBCs feared that if the Marathas get their demand, their share in the reservation tally might be cut. Currently, the OBCs constitute 52 per cent of the state's population and avail 27 per cent quota in government jobs and education. But when the Marathas protested, the OBCs also took to the streets to counter their movement.
After the Marathas — comprising 32% of the population — were granted their quota (now under litigation), the government was under pressure to treat the other large chunk of population fairly and thus the department was envisaged.
An official attached with new department said, "The budget has already been allocated under various heads. A high power committee of bureaucrats and ministers will now allocate staff to the new department so that it gets functional at district, divisional and Mantralaya levels."
Not the first
This is not the first attempt at establishing an OBC department, as the BJP-Sena had created one in 1995, but the Cong-NCP government later scrapped it.
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