Mumbai: In a strategic move to exert pressure on the ruling coalition in Maharashtra, two prominent Congress leaders—former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and the leader of the opposition in the legislative assembly, Vijay Wadettiwar—have called for the passage of a bill reserving 75% of government jobs and seats in educational institutions, modeled after a recently enacted bill in the Bihar legislature. They emphasized that the Bihar bill garnered support from all political parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and asserted that replicating this legislation would automatically address the reservation concerns for the Maratha community. The leaders urged the introduction of a Bihar-style bill during the upcoming Nagpur session of the state legislature.
Upcoming Nagpur session earmarked for special discussions
The Nagpur session, slated to commence on December 7, has been earmarked by the state government for special discussions on the Maratha quota and other related issues. Beyond the Marathas, several other communities, such as the Dhangars, have been advocating for distinct quotas. Many members of the state legislature are contemplating the possibilities of a caste census and an increase in the quota cap. Against this backdrop, there is a growing sentiment that a bill resembling the Bihar assembly's recent legislation would gain significant traction.
Chavan's demand is contextualized within this evolving scenario. He highlighted that the Congress had previously supported calls for a caste census and an expansion of the quota cap. Notably, resolutions to this effect were adopted during Congress Working Committee (CWC) meetings in Delhi and Hyderabad.
Responding to these proposals, a senior BJP leader, speaking anonymously, questioned the Congress's commitment, asking why the party had not pursued a 75% reservation when in power. Additionally, the leader questioned the failure of the MVA government, of which the Congress was a part, to enact such a law. The BJP leader asserted that the Congress is aware that such legislation would likely be struck down by the Supreme Court for violating the 50% cap it has imposed, characterizing the Congress's stance as misleading the Marathas.
Bihar's Bold Move: Increased Reservations for Various Categories
The Bihar Assembly recently passed a bill elevating reservations in government jobs and educational institutions from the existing 60% to 75%. The revised breakdown includes an 18% quota for OBCs, 25% for EBCs, 20% for SCs, and 2% for STs. The decision followed the Bihar cabinet's approval, aligning with the state's population distribution based on the caste survey findings.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar clarified that the bill aimed to implement quota adjustments for backward classes aligned with their share in the state's population, as outlined in the caste survey. The survey indicated that backward classes, comprising OBCs and EBCs, constitute 64% of Bihar's population.