The Shinde-Fadnavis government faces a major political challenge to keep the influential Maratha and OBC communities in good favour as both have taken an aggressive posture on the issue of reservation. The trigger is the observation by the Dedicated Commission on OBCs that there is 37% OBC population in the state and its recommendation for 27% political reservation to the community in local bodies.
In case of OBC, the quota is recommended considering the district as the unit for population estimation. However, in case of employment and education the population quantum is considered for overall state.
In view of this, the Maratha community has demanded that at least 12% of the 32% quota already given to OBC categories but they deserve only 18.5%. This is 50% of the 37% OBC population as shown by the Dedicated Commission in its report.
The Maratha community also insists that if the government is unable to give 18.5% quota then in that case they should be included in the list of existing OBC reservation within the existing 32%. The Maratha community was granted 12% quota in education and 13% in jobs under the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) category by the BJP government but it was later scrapped by the Supreme Court on the ground that no extraordinary situation and exceptional circumstances existed in case of Marathas in Maharashtra.
OBC leaders including Chhagan Bhujbal and Vijay Wadettiwar have objected to the Dedicated Commission’s finding that there is 37% OBC population saying that it will adversely impact their quota in services and education. They have clarified that they stick to their demand for the restoration of 27% political reservation in local bodies as recommended by the Dedicated Commission but were worried over reduction in quota in education and employment as the OBC population is shown at 37% in its report.
However, reservation expert Balasaheb Sarate said the reservation given to OBCs in most of the states is about 50% of their overall share of population in those states. But Maharashtra is the only state where OBCs are given about 100% reservation of their population share in the state.
‘’Marathas are not demanding anything against OBCs but their demand is to get the constitutional right which they deserve fairly,’’ said Sarate.