Maharashtra government's decision to allow quota for Marathas under Economically Weaker Section evokes mixed reactions

The Maharashtra Cabinet’s decision to issue an Economically Weaker Section (EWS) certificate to the Maratha community to avail reservation in education and government jobs has evoked mixed reactions.

Public Works Minister Ashok Chavan, who heads the cabinet sub-committee on the Maratha quota, alleged that opposition to the state government allowing Maratha candidates to avail benefits of the EWS quota was mere politics. “There is opposition to any decision being taken in this regard. This is mere politics just for the sake of opposing,” he said.

Chavan recalled that the government had earlier planned to provide EWS quota to Marathas who have been brought under the category of socially and educationally backward class (SEBC). “But some Maratha community leaders opposed the move. Some groups approached the Bombay High Court for EWS quota for SEBC and the court also ruled that the government ought to have taken such a decision,” he said.

As reported by the Free Press Journal, Chavan said that seeking EWS benefits will be optional and not compulsory. Those who avail EWS certificates, which is optional, will not be eligible to get reservation under the SEBC category

However, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Member of the Parliament (MP) Sambhaji Chhatrapati said the Maharashtra government does not seem to be confident of winning the legal battle over the issue of Maratha quota under the SEBC category. "The state seems to have no confidence of winning the legal battle for the SEBC reservation quota in the Supreme Court. If the court strikes down the state's SEBC quota, it will be the state governments’ responsibility," he noted.

"The EWS quota is for everyone from the open/general category, who is economically weaker. This quota is not solely for the Maratha community, but the SEBC reservation is meant for the Maratha community," he added.

On the other hand, Sambhaji Brigade founder Praveen Gaikwad has called upon the state government to provide reservation to the Maratha community under the EWS category, as it is not possible to get quota by creating a special category through the Constitutional amendment.

“The Maratha community cannot get reservation under the SEBC category, which was created by the Devendra Fadnavis government based on the Backward Classes Commission report. The SCBC Act in 2018 by the Fadnavis government was wrong,” said Gaikwad.

He welcomed the state cabinet’s decision, saying that the Maratha community should obtain benefits under the EWS quota.

Gaikwad said some leaders, who claim to be the representatives of the Maratha community, are using the quota issue for political gains.

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