Ajit Pawar
Ajit Pawar

Ahead of the hearing on the Maratha reservation quota in the Supreme Court, the Maharashtra government, in yet another move to keep the Maratha community in good humour, on Thursday, released Rs 8 crore to the Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj Research Training and Human Development Institute (SARTHI). This is important as Maratha community members had announced a state-wide agitation against the government for not releasing funds required for its survival.

The decision to allot Rs 8 crore was taken at the meeting chaired by the Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar along with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Member of the Parliament Chhatrapati Sambhaji Raje. The government subsequently issued a notification on the transfer of money to the company.

SARTHI has been hogging headlines for alleged irregularities and on the issue of autonomy. It is a non-profit government company for research, policy advocacy and training for socio-economic and education development of Maratha, Maratha-Kunbi, Kunbi-Maratha, Kunbi community and the families dependent on agriculture.

Pawar assured that the autonomy of SAARTHI will remain intact and it will function in a transparent manner. He also stated that he will request Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to transfer its management under the Planning Department, which he holds. "I am telling on behalf of the government that no matter what, SARTHI will not be closed down. We are giving funds of Rs 8 crore to SARTHI. Its autonomy will remain intact," he noted.

On his part, Sambhaji Chhatrapati said, "DCM told us that the institute is in the name of Shahu Maharaj and it will not be allowed to shut down." He added, "DCM Pawar should pay attention to the matters raised (before him) personally. We only want it to remain autonomous and turn out to be a memorial of Shahu Maharaj in a true sense," he viewed.

Today’s government decision comes when various organisations, which are at the forefront to take up cause of the Maratha community, had alleged that the Maha Vikas Aghadi government was not serious and was creating hurdles in the SARTHI’s functioning. They had charged that the government wanted to close it down.

Recently, Maharashtra Minister for Relief and Rehabilitation Vijay Wadettiwar offered to relinquish his charge of SARTHI after being allegedly targeted on account of his caste. He mentioned that he would request CM Uddhav Thackeray to hand over the responsibility of SARTHI to some other Minister to ‘avoid further politics’.

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