Maratha Reservation Notification Unites Former Rebels Narayan Rane & Chhagan Bhujbal In Opposition

Maratha Reservation Notification Unites Former Rebels Narayan Rane & Chhagan Bhujbal In Opposition

Both of them had raised the banner of revolt against the late Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray and chartered separate political paths. But now they are finding themselves on the same page on the vexed issue of Maratha reservation.

S BalakrishnanUpdated: Monday, January 29, 2024, 01:07 AM IST
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Maratha Reservation Notification Unites Former Rebels Narayan Rane & Chhagan Bhujbal In Opposition | X

On Sunday, both Union minister and BJP leader Narayan Rane and senior cabinet minister of the NCP (Ajit Pawar) Chhagan Bhujbal  came out openly opposing Saturday's notification issued by the Eknath Shinde government through which it plans to give kunbi certificates to at least 54 lakh Marathas and bring them on par with the OBCs in matters of reservation for government jobs and education.

Mr Rane, who is a staunch Maratha himself, said in an X message that he was not at all in agreement with Saturday's notification. He said the notification, in fact, demoralised the Maratha community. He also warned of caste unrest among OBCs as a result of the controversial notification. He has scheduled a press conference at 4.00 pm on Monday at the YB Chavan Centre near Mantralaya. It is significant that he is not holding the press meet at the BJP's state office which is also near Mantralaya.

The reason apparently is that he did not wish to cause embarrassment to his party because of his opposition to the notification, which has been endorsed by deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis of his own organisation. There are several Maratha leaders in the BJP like Vinod Tawde who are facing a predicament post Mr Rane's statement. There is speculation that Mr Rane might quit from the Union council of ministers if the Maha Yuti persists with its notification.

In the past, Mr Rane had maintained that the Marathas are a forward caste and they should not lower their status by asking to be labelled as a backward caste. Incidentally, by saying this he is actually voicing the views of upper caste Marathas who are loath to be included in the OBC category.

Mr Bhujbal, who is the  head of the all India Samata Parishad, convened a meeting of prominent OBC leaders at this official residence on Sunday evening to chalk out a strategy to legally challenge the notification. His open opposition has placed CM Shinde in a piquant situation. He cannot sack him because of his stature as the face of the OBCs and at the same time he is not able to make him fall in line. Another senior OBC leader Prakash Shendge and noted advocate Gunratan Sadavarte are already making preparations to legally neutralise Saturday's notification.

Sanjay Raut challenges Chhagan Bhujbal

Shiv Sena (UBT) spokesperson Sanjay Raut said if Mr Bhujbal was serious about his opposition to the notification then he should put in his papers. His reasoning was that Mr Bhujbal cannot be a part of the government and yet oppose an important policy decision taken by it.

Mr Bhujbal's strong contention is that the issue of kunbi certificates to blood relatives of persons with kunbi antecedents and those related by marriage will not stand legal scrutiny. Sources close to him said it was rather naive on the part of the government to think that caste certificates can be issued on the basis of affidavits filed by applicants. No court will endorse such a simplistic step, they contended. Mr Bhujbal has accused the government of trying to introduce Marathas into the OBC category through the back entry.

CM Shinde continued to maintain that the issue of kunbi certificates will not impinge on the OBC quota. He said four lakh government employees were working in three shifts to ascertain the economic status of the Maratha community. ``We are gathering empirical evidence to prove the backwardness of the community and this will withstand legal scrutiny," he asserted while talking to the media.

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