Maratha quota stir: Section of BJP happy with CM Devendra Fadnavis’ discomfort?

Mumbai: If the hypotheses of a non-Maratha BJP minister is to be accepted, a section of the party is happy at the discomfort of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis over the Maratha reservation issue. Fadnavis grappled with the situation all alone, despite having several Maratha ministers in his cabinet. Sources claimed that a lobby of ‘internal opponents’ and bureaucrats was trying to oust Fadnavis from his post.

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, too, on Wednesday claimed that there are “talks within the BJP” to replace Fadnavis. However, two senior BJP ministers rubbished Raut’s claim, saying there was no such talk. Revenue minister Chandrakant Patil said, “There is no reason to replace the chief minister. The Chief Minister is in favour of giving Marathas reservation more than even I am.”

Though the state is dominated by the Maratha community, Fadnavis, from the first day, has hated the word ‘Peshwa’ being appended to his government, point out detractors. Intelligence agencies have established that left-wing extremists, with the support of Maratha leaders, had tried to create a law and order situation after the Bhima-Koregaon caste riots. However, Fadnavis managed to address the problem and calmed down the undercurrent against him.

These sources claim that even the farmer’s strike in June last year and the recent milk producers’ stir were aimed at destabilising Fadnavis. The minister, on condition of anonymity, said, “Any such move is improbable as Fadnavis has the blessings of PM Narendra Modi and the situation in the state is not such that it warrants a change of guard.”

However, the Maratha lobby has been trying to disturb Fadnavis and his government from day one, point out these sources. Sharad Pawar,  NCP chief, had invoked the caste of Fadnavis when the BJP appointed Chhatrapati Sambhaji, a descendent of Chhatrapati Shivaji, to the Rajya Sabha in 2016. At that time, Pawar had said, “Earlier, the Chhatrapati used to appoint a Peshwa (Brahmin PM), now a Peshwa has appointed a Chhatrapati.”

However, Fadnavis has never subscribed to the theory that Maratha leaders are averse to a Brahmin CM. Rather, the opposition which wanted to destabilise a performing government. It may be recalled that Manohar Joshi, a Brahmin chief minister in the Shiv Sena-BJP government, was ousted by Sena supremo late Balasaheb Thackeray. Narayan Rane, a strong Maratha leader, was made chief minister of the state a year before the Assembly poll. Brahmins are just 3.5 per cent of the state’s population, as against Marathas, who are 35 per cent. It is claimed that Vinod Tawade, Minister for School Education, and Raosaheb Danve, state president of the party, are among aspirants for the CM’s post. Chandrakant Patil’s name was doing the rounds, too, in political circles, but when it was revealed that he is a Jain and not a Maratha, he got knocked out of the race.

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