Quota politics first rocks, then stalls assembly
Cracks show in Opposition parties over demand to discuss Backward Class Commission report
Quota politics continued to shake up the state legislature on Day 2 of the winter session. With the declaration of reservation for Marathas, the Opposition demanded a similar quota for the Muslim and Dhangar communities, too, with some legislators even attempting to steal the Speaker's sceptre. The ensuing ruckus forced the state assembly to a halt, while the upper house, too, was adjourned for the day over the same demand.
Earlier in the morning, enraged legislators Abdul Sattar, Amin Patel, Aslam Sheikh (from the Congress), Abu Azmi and Asif Shaikh (Samajwadi Party) tried to capture the Speaker's sceptre when the ruling party did not respond to Opposition leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil's motion for taking up the discussion on reservation and tabling the report of the Backward Class (BC) Commission, which has endorsed a quota for the community.
Vikhe Patil also questioned the delay in granting Dhangars reservation and asked why the Muslim community was not being provided a quota despite the High Court's approval. He also spoke of the laxity in drought mitigation in the state. Amin Patel said the BJP government had ignored 50 castes in the Muslim community which are backward in terms of employment and education. "When the high court has approved the quota, this government says the community cannot get reservation on the basis of religion," he said.
Differences in opposition
Similar issues were taken up by the Opposition in the Upper House, with a focus on drought. Leader of opposition Dhananjay Munde kept up the pressure through his speech. The government didn't want Dhangars to get a quota because the RSS was opposed to reservations, he alleged. The house was stalled repeatedly and then closed for the day. While Vikhe-Patil demanded tabling of the BC commission report, NCP's senior leader Ajit Pawar advised against it. He said that a committee should be allowed to study it and recommend certain measures.
"The entire house is for the Maratha reservation, but all of us want you to do it in a way that it stands the judicial test. My party does not want to politicise the issue, but then we must also consider that members of the Other Backward Class (OBC) are against accommodating Marathas in their existing quantum. So the government must increase the entire quota beyond 52 per cent to include Marathas," said Pawar. Responding on behalf of the government, revenue minister Chandrakant Patil highlighted the difference of opinion in the two opposition parties. "There could a debate on whether the commission's report should be tabled in the house. The chief minister has explained the government's position on this," he said.
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