CM accuses Opposition of stalling decision on Maratha quota

Nov 28, 2018, 08:15 IST | Dharmendra Jore

Both Houses were interrupted frequently over the demand, even as the state wants to bring in a bill for its approval

CM accuses Opposition of stalling decision on Maratha quota
Devendra Fadnavis

The fight for Maratha reservation is not only being fought on the streets, but also in the legislature, which was stalled on successive days over the issue. On Tuesday, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis accused the Opposition of deliberately stalling the early legislation of the Maratha quota, because the houses were interrupted frequently over the demand, even as the state wants to bring in a bill for its approval on November 29.

The upper house was force-stopped, as the Opposition demanded the tabling of the backward class commission report that has recommended a quota, and a report by the Tata Institute for Social Sciences, which has studied the need for a quota for the Dhangar community. Somehow, the lower house was convinced to work and debate a severe drought in the state, which is also one of the priorities of the government.

The debate on Maratha quota intensified further yesterday, a day after the state government announced its plan for a bill. An empowered group of ministers is deliberating the modalities such as a quantum for the Maratha quota (the community wants at least 16%) and overall drafting of the Bill which many feel would be challenged in the court, despite the Marathas getting an independent share above the existing 52% reservation for other communities.

On the other hand, the opposition wants to know the BC Commission (Maharashtra Backward Class Commission) report and does not want the action taken report on the recommendations that have been accepted. They have also raised the denial of a Muslim quota.

You are dividing society: CM
As the pressure mounted in the houses and outside them in view of the arrests of Maratha activists who have decided to gather in the city ahead of a deadline, CM Fadnavis saw an evil political design by the opposition. "The opposition has evil designs. They want to divide communities and create tension in the society," Fadnavis said while thwarting a combined attack from the Congress, NCP and other non-BJP members. "My government is committed to give Marathas a quota," he said.

He refused to table the reports saying no government had done so in the past. "This is the 52nd such report by the BC Commission and none of them were tabled in the legislature. But we will table an Action Taken Report before bringing the bill," he said quoting from a rule book.

He said the existing reservation was 50% which is above the cap decided by the Supreme Court. "The 2% quota (beyond a permissible limit) for SEBC (special economically backward class) is still (legally) valid, so, we will be giving the Marathas quota under a separate category," he said.

'You are instigating Muslims'
Fadnavis said the previous government had not given the Muslim community a quota, but selected sub castes in the (Muslim) religion. "The court allowed Muslims a quota in education, but stayed the facility in jobs. We will have to establish through the BC Commission that the community (as a whole) is backward to get Muslims a valid reservation. Without understanding this, the opposition is instigating Muslims for vote-bank politics," said the CM, adding the ATR (Action Taken Report) in the Dhangar's demand would also be placed before the house.

'Tell us the law'
Opposition leader in the Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil challenged the CM to tell the house about the law which bars the government from tabling the reports. He said since the government had not decided on the quantum of quota and drafting of the new law, the opposition wanted to participate in the process. "What if the court asks for the report when the quota is challenged? We want to debate the report and its recommendations before any such eventuality comes up. We will suggest remedies and support the government if the quota is 16% and above," he said. "In fact, we doubt the BJP government's intentions. It seems it does not want the Maratha quota to happen," he said.

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