Maharashtra: Tug of war between OBC and Maratha communities over quota

Mumbai: The 10-month-old Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government faces a major challenge as the politically influential Other Backward Classes (OBC) and Maratha communities have not only become vocal about their respective reservation, but issued warnings of agitations if they are side-lined in welfare and development schemes. The Maratha organisations are up in arms against the government demanding the restoration of 12% quota in education and 13% in the government jobs which was stayed by the Supreme Court.

On the other hand, OBC leaders including Chhagan Bhujbal and Vijay Wadettiwar have been of the firm and consistent view that they are not opposed to the Maratha quota but the government should not touch their 27% reservation to pacify agitated Marathas. Bhujbal and Wadettiwar welcomed the state cabinet’s slew of decisions to provide funds for state undertakings and bodies engaged to implement schemes for the development of Maratha community. However, the duo insisted that the government should show a similar gesture and release funds for OBC welfare projects.

The OBCs, which constitute 52% of the state population, are not happy over Thackeray led government’s appeasement of the Maratha community. They have demanded a level playing field.

The trigger for OBCs and Maratha leaders to target each other was the MPSC exam which was to take place on October 11. Rajya Sabha members Chhatrapati Sambhaji Raje and Chhatrapati Udayanraje Bhosale warned of outburst from the Maratha community if the MPSC exam slated for Sunday was not postponed. Sambhaji Raje had threatened that if the government does not defer the exam, the Marathas will not deter to take law into their hands. ‘’ Maratha are keeping restraint but if needed they may take out swords,’’ he had said.

Few hours after Wadettiwar took a swipe at Sambhaji Raje saying that against whom swords will be used. He further stated that Kings always take care of their people and Raje’s warning of taking out swords is against the established norms. Wadettiwar said Maharashtra has been a progressive state which empowers all sections of the society and has not been parochial in its approach.

Wadettiwar reminded Sambhaji Raje that he cannot be voicing concerns of a particular community but must be thinking for the welfare of all. ‘’ While making a case for protecting the interest of a particular community, the others should not be harmed,’’ he noted. Even though Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has declared postponement of MPSC exam, he will certainly have to step up further efforts to pacify OBCs and Marathas to ensure stability of the MVA government.

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