Quota for Dhangars: Maharashtra Legislative Council Chairman seeks information from govt

Mumbai: Maharashtra Legislative Council witnessed a heated debate today over the government's failure to send a proposal to the Centre for giving reservation to the Dhangar community, with the chairman Ramraje Nimbalkar seeking to know the steps it planned to take to resolve the issue.

Mahadev Jankar, who belongs to Dhangar community and whose Rashtriya Samaj Paksha is an ally of ruling BJP, said the government's stand on the issue seemed to be vague, and he would leave the alliance the day he found that the government was unwilling to give reservation.

Speaking on the issue during the question hour, leader of opposition in the Council Dhananjay Munde pointed out that in the winter session the BJP-led government had said the community cannot get reservation. "Time and again they have said the same thing on news channels. The only intention seems to be that the government does not intend to provide reservation to the community," he said.

In response, Tribal Development minister Vishnu Savara explained the technicalities involved in sending a proposal to the Union Government, and said the state was waiting for a report from the 'Adivasi anshodhan-Prashikshan Sanstha' (tribal research and training institute) before sending the proposal. "The issue should not be politicised," he said.

However, NCP's Sunil Tatkare said the issue became political when Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, during the Assembly poll campaign last year, said in Baramati that the decision to grant reservation to the community would be taken in the very first cabinet meeting of the new government (if BJP come to power).

Ramhari Rupanwar pointed out that the community was not asking for new addition to the Scheduled Tribes category because the Constitution had already made a provision for it. "The only thing the state government needs to do is to send a proposal," Rupanwar said.

Chairman Ramraje Nimbalkar pointed out that in the previous session the government had said it was seeking the opinion of the Attorney General. "The Chief Minister needs to give a specific answer on what steps you will take to resolve the issue," Nimbalkar said.

Jankar, himself a Dhangar, said he had spoken to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi who sounded positive on the issue, while the state government's stand today seemed to be vague or uncertain.

"I do not want to do politics on the issue. But I am sure the government will resolve this issue. The day I feel the government does not want Dhangars to be in the reserved category, I will leave the government...The proposal will take time but it will surely happen," he said.

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