Mumbai: The Shiv Sena, which has 40 per cent Maratha legislators out of a total of 63, and supports Maratha reservation is still playing a ‘wait and watch’ game with its alliance partner in the state government — Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the reservation issue till Diwali. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray may take a final call after the special session of the state legislature, which is expected to be held in September. In the backdrop of Maratha reservation stir, Thackeray will convene a meeting of all ministers and legislators of his party on Monday to discuss various issues, with Maratha reservations being the main agenda.
Sources in the Shiv Sena claimed that Thackeray had been forced to take serious note of the statewide agitation as 25 legislators out off 63 in Lower House and 5 out of total 11 in Upper House belong to the Maratha community. Sena has a stronghold in Marathwada, Konkan and North Maharashtra. The party has made its presence felt even in parts of Western Maharashtra — once the bastion of the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
“It will be not beneficial for the party to ignore the Maratha community, which constitutes 35 per cent of the state’s population, and their demand of reservation, though the Sena doesn’t believe in caste-based politics,” said the source. “According to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ statement, the report on social and economic backwardness of Maratha community by the State Backward Class Commission (SBCC) is expected to be submitted before the Bombay High Court by August 31. Later, a special session of the state legislature will be convened to discuss the issue,” the source said, addin “Sena will reveal its stand on reservation during that session. We have supported their demand but we fear whether the state’s stand will be accepted by the HC?”
“If the government fails to put its stand strongly in the HC, Sena will not play a mute spectator. At that moment the Sena chief may take an extreme decision,” the source claimed but refused to clarify on whether the extreme step would be to pull out of the government. The source said, “Wait till December.”
Meanwhile, there may be other issues that are discussed in the meeting including the preparation for 2019 election without tying up with the BJP, strengthening the party’s base in areas like Vidarbha where the Sena doesn’t have any impact and the performance of party legislators in the recently concluded monsoon session at Nagpur. Party spokesperson Dr Neelam Gorhe said, “In a directive issued to all the Sena legislators by Minister for Public Works, Eknath Shinde and party whip in legislative assembly, Sunil Prabhu, all the Sena legislators have been directed to attend the meeting.” She though added that they hadn’t been informed of what the agenda for the meeting was.