Govt resolves to give quota to Marathas, but not Muslims

Updated: Dec 10, 2016, 08:00 IST | Dharmendra Jore

CM says his govt would prove in HC that Marathas are financially and socially weaker; but it did not approve of an anti-constitutional way of granting Muslims a quota on the basis of religion

Fadnavis said the state has filed an affidavit in the high court with information about drop-out rate of Maratha students, and the community’s little presence in government jobs. File pics
Fadnavis said the state has filed an affidavit in the high court with information about drop-out rate of Maratha students, and the community’s little presence in government jobs. File pic

Nagpur: Following a two-day debate in the state legislature, the state government has reiterated its resolve to give a 16% quota to the Maratha community, but refused to grant a similar sop to Muslims saying that it would defy a constitutional provision that reservations cannot be given on the basis of religion.

In his reply that lasted almost two hours on Friday, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that his government was able to do what the previous government had failed in terms of making a strong case for Maratha reservation in the Bombay High Court. He said the government has gathered historic and contemporary evidence to prove that the Maratha community was socially and economically backward.

“The Maratha community did get reservation in the past, but the then government took it away in 1965 without giving any reason. Subsequent official bodies such as Mandal Commission, Khatri Commission and Bapat Commission did not approve of a quota for Marathas despite a serious demand and dire need,” he said.

Design to deprive Marathas?
Fadnavis alleged that a member named Raosaheb Kasbe was included in the Bapat Committee barely two months before it submitted its report. “Majority members were in favour of a quota for Marathas, but Kasbe changed that with his vote. In fact, Kasbe was neither involved in research work not did he take part in commission’s deliberations. Kasbe’s inclusion should be investigated,” he said.

He said even a recommendation that Mandal Commission made against Marathas was based on wrong assumptions. “The then government did not contest Mandal commission recommendations,” he said, raising a doubt over the intention of the Congress, which had been ruling the state then.

After effects of LS debacle
The CM went ahead charging the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party of using Marathas in vote bank politics ahead of the 2014 Assembly polls. “Why did you think of promulgating an ordinance just before the Assembly polls? Was it because you had lost 42 of 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra? And why did you not convert the ordinance into a law by convening a special session of the legislature?” asked Fadnavis.

He alleged that the reservation did not stand in the high court because the Congress-NCP government had not submitted any evidence to support its decision before the court. “It is wrong to say that my government is at fault. I admit that we have taken some time (to prepare), but that time was utilized for researching the period since Chhatrapati Shivaji to prove the Maratha community’s backwardness. The community was given a quota by Rajashree Shahu Maharaj (King of the Kolhapur princely state) because it was backward. The caste census between 1871 and 1933 also proves the community’s weaker side in socio-economy,” he said.

He said an affidavit that the state government has filed in the high court has information about drop-out rate of Maratha students, the community’s little presence in government jobs and a huge presence in farming, farm labourers and migrant sections of the society.

The CM refuted allegations that a recently-declared sop in education scholarship was a design to weaken the Marathas’ court case. He said the decision was taken because the Maratha community, if given a 16% quota, would get only 900 seats in government colleges, whereas, if given scholarships and tuition fee reimbursement, the community would avail of 1.5 lakh seats in private colleges across the state.

No quota for Muslims
Fadnavis said that his government did not approve of an anti-constitutional way of granting Muslims a quota on the basis of religion. “Our law does not approve this kind of reservation. We will follow the Constitution, but at the same time continue to bring Muslims in the main stream by offering them schemes on the basis of economic backwardness. We will also wait for the court’s decision of continuing a 5% quota for Muslims in education (that was given by the Cong-NCP govt),” he said, adding that all scholarships and fee reimbursement programmes that were available to Marathas and others were available to Muslims as well.

The CM dismissed the Congress-NCP’s claim that their alliance-government had given the entire community a 5% quota. “This is misleading. The decision was to offer 50 castes in the Muslim community a quota, and not the entire community. Anyways, many castes in Muslims avail of the OBC, SC and ST quota even now and we’re not against it.

Atrocities Act will stay
Fadnavis allayed fears of the Dalit and tribals that the law for preventing atrocities against them would either be scrapped or diluted in view of a growing demand. “The Maratha community has asked for the misuse of atrocities law (in view of Kopardi gangrape and many other incidents) to be stopped, but they have not demanded scrapping of the law,” he told the house.

However, the CM said that amending the law would amount to taking away the sting from the effective legislation. The CM also announced formation of a legislators’ committee to understand the misuse of the law and recommend as to how the practice could be prevented.

Shivaji Memorial in the Arabian Sea at any cost
“Do you ever ask how much your father eats and how much money do you need to look after him?” CM Fadnavis asked in an attempt to silence criticism that a proposed expenditure of Rs 3,700 cr for constructing the Shivaji Maharaj memorial off Mumbai in Arabian Sea was a sheer waste and the money should be put to better use.

“There are some people here in the house and media who raise such questions. But they should understand that we all are here (live and kicking) only because of Maharaj. The memorial will not only showcase Maharaj’s 
life but his good governance and style of administration,” he said.

He said all permissions were in place and PM Narendra Modi would lay the foundation of the memorial very soon.

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