Controversy establishes me as OBC leader: Pankaja Munde

Mumbai: After the minister for women and child welfare and leader of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) Pankaja Munde exited the meeting of the subcommittee appointed on the Maratha quota issue, sources from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) claimed Pankaja was upset with the granting of 16 per cent reservation to the community.

However, she rubbishes claims by saying someone was trying to malign her and portray her as anti-Maratha. She said as she was not a member of the subcommittee, so there was no point in participating in the meeting.  “If anybody wants to create a rift between the Marathas and OBCs using my name, it will only serve to establish me as an OBC leader in the state,” said Pankaja, adding that she had earlier said at a state cabinet meeting on reservation that the OBC quota should not be disturbed.

A meeting of the sub-committee was planned at the meeting hall in Vidhan Bhavan on Thursday, before the tabling of the action taken report and the draft bill granting quota to the Marathas. Revenue minister Chandrakant Patil, the chairman of the subcommittee, and the members, including Girish Mahajan and Ram Shinde, were present at the meeting hall.

According to the source, Pankaja asked Mahajan on what grounds had the State Backward Class Commission (SBCC) said the population of Marathas in the state was 30 per cent. “Pankaja also raised questions over the granting 16 per cent quota, based on the 30 per cent population of the community.”

She then went into the room where the meeting was underway and sought to know whether the quota would also be meant for Kunbis, a sub-caste of the Marathas, sources said. She reportedly said Kunbis were already getting reservation benefits under the OBC category. “The 16 per cent figure may have been arrived at because the survey combined Marathas and Kunbis,” she reportedly said.

However, Pankaja said, reports that she went inside the room where the meeting was underway were baseless. “When I entered the room, Patil, Mahajan and Shinde were there. We had an informal discussion on subjects other than the Maratha issue.

When I learnt they were going to hold a meeting of the subcommittee on Marathas, I left, although Patil asked me to stay on for the meeting,” said Pankaja. She further added, “I received a call from the Chief Minister’s Office, asking me to rush there and I was hurrying along. However, one of my opponents spread the word that I had stepped out of the subcommittee, enraged. But that is not true.”

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