Mumbai: The Maha Vikas Aghadi government’s cup of woes runneth over. Engrossed as it is in the thick of the pandemic struggle, now a political challenge has been poured in, with the Supreme Court striking down reservation for the Maratha community in education and government jobs on Wednesday. Now the government faces a major political challenge – that of keeping the politically influential Maratha community, which constitutes about 32 per cent of the population, in good humour.
Further, it must fend off the BJP in the state, which has already started piling on the blame on the MVA government for its failure to ensure a favourable decision on the restoration of the quota that was stayed in September 2020. Then, it must go to the Centre, with folded hands and ask it to expedite the matter.
Most importantly, the government cannot touch the 27 per cent reservation already provided to Other Backward Communities, which have already warned against any such move. The Maha Vikas Aghadi partners will not reach unanimity on carving out a quota for the Maratha community from the existing OBC quota as it will boomerang and provide more ammunition to the BJP. Clearly, the MVA partners are on the backfoot and the BJP in its usual offensive mode.
The MVA government faces the acid test of restoration of the Maratha quota and it will have to strongly pursue its case with the Centre. The 102nd Constitutional Amendment has delegated power to the Centre to provide quota, not to the states. “Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has already announced he will seek the intervention of the Prime Minister and President of India for an early decision on Maratha quota. The government will urge the Centre to set up a backward class commission to grant the Maratha quota. The government will also appeal to the Centre to enact a constitutional amendment,” said NCP minister Nawab Malik.
On the other hand, Chhatrapati Sambhajiraje and the Maratha Kranti Morcha have suggested that the state government should immediately announce a supernumerary quota for the Maratha community and give justice to the community.
“The government will seek the opinion of legal experts on challenging the SC ruling, citing that the apex court has yet to hear the petition challenging the reservation in Tami Nadu, which is in excess of the 50 per cent ceiling. In addition, the government will also argue that the SC will have to hear the petition against the 10 per cent quota granted by the Centre for the Economically Weaker Sections. The government will once again pray to take up the Maratha quota with these petitions, and not in isolation,” said another minister.
On the other hand, the state government will consider the announcement of a financial package and offering more incentives to the Maratha community. Thackeray has opened up channels to rope in the opposition to unitedly fight the battle to protect the interest of the Marathas.
However, the BJP is expected to make every attempt to mobilise opinion against the MVA government. “The MVA has failed to argue the case properly. Moreover, it did not want to give credit to the BJP,” said former CM Devendra Fadnavis.
So apart from a legal battle, a political fight is inevitable in the state, with the MVA and the BJP facing off.