The verbal duel between Other Backward Class (OBC) and Maratha leaders continues on the contentious issues related to the reservation and the state government’s decision to postpone the Maharashtra Public Service Commission (MPSC) examination slated for Sunday.
Minister of Relief and Rehabilitation Vijay Wadettiwar, on Saturday, declared that the ministerial post does not matter to him and he will continue to fight for the upliftment and empowerment of the OBC community. “I will fight for the OBC community; ministerial post is not important. I am an OBC activist, born in the OBC community and fighting for the OBC community. I will not let the OBC community get neglected. The community is angry; it needs justice, I will fight for it,” he noted.
Wadettiwar spoke his mind after Rajya Sabha Member of the Parliament (MP) and Maratha quota proponent Sambhaji Raje had said that the former had asked him to join the OBC community. “Raje spoke partially, not fully, so I am sorry. The Chief Minister had called a meeting five or six days ago. Sambhaji Raje was sitting next to me in that meeting. He said that you are an OBC leader. So, why do you oppose the Maratha reservation? I explained to him that I have never opposed it,” he noted.
Wadettiwar further said that he told Sambhaji Raje, if he wanted to join OBC, which currently enjoys 27 per cent reservation in the state, then he can add the 12 per cent Maratha quota to it, so that together it would be 39 per cent quota. “I explained to him that if you add the reservation currently provided to the Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST), then again it will cross the 50 per cent limit. Again, the state will face a similar issue of keeping all these quotas within the 50 per cent limit.”
He added that he had requested Raje not to touch the 27 per cent OBC quota, as the community is poor and less developed. “Only 7 per cent of the population from the OBC community is educated. I reiterated that if the Marathas want to join OBC and enjoy quota benefits, then please add the 12 per cent of their reservation under a separate category so both would benefit,” said Wadettiwar and added that Raje revealed the half truth.
Wadettiwar clarified that the OBCs and he are not against the reservation for the Maratha community. OBCs are equally concerned about the hardships faced by the Maratha community students and youth. “Unfortunately, attempts are being made to project that OBCs are against the Maratha quota. It is not true. However, if Marathas are exploring an option of getting reservation from the OBC share, then they may add their 12 per cent quota under a separate category without affecting the OBC reservation,” he opined.
Wadettiwar said that Raje should not speak about the betterment of a particular community, but think about the welfare of all.
On the other hand, another OBC leader and Minister of Food and Civil Supply Chhagan Bhujbal strongly criticised Raje’s statement that they will be compelled to use swords if the Marathas lose patience over state government’s inaction. “Will the sword will be used on OBCs or anyone else?” asked Bhujbal.
He expressed strong displeasure over the state government’s decision to postpone the MPSC examination slated for Sunday, following pressure from Maratha organisations citing the COVID-19 pandemic. “MPSC examination should have been held. Kings belong to all the people, not to one community, so kings should think of all communities,” said Bhujbal. However, he further added that he did not want to make any comment on the CM’s decision with regard to the postponement of the MPSC examination.
Meanwhile, Maratha Kranti Morcha (MKM) coordinator Rajendra Kondhare accused some rich people of the Maratha community for denying reservations. “If you don't get a chance, you will take a stone in your hand, won't you?” he asked, hinting that the Marathas are desperate for the restoration of the quota that was recently stayed by the Supreme Court.