On the first day of the winter session of the Maharashtra Legislature in Mumbai, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and Public Works Minister Ashok Chavan separately slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for politicising the Maratha quota issue when it was pending before the Supreme Court. Pawar claimed that the party has been raking up the issue, as it is yet to recover from its defeat in the recently held council elections from the graduates and teachers constituencies.
On the other hand, Chavan, who heads the cabinet sub-committee on Maratha reservation, claimed BJP has only one point agenda to criticise the Maha Vikas Aghadi government on each and every issue. He alleged that BJP was misleading the Maratha community on the quota issue and said that the government has been quite serious on the restoration of the reservation.
Pawar took an aggressive posture to target BJP, saying that the saffron party was unable to digest its rout in the council elections. Therefore, it was raising the Maratha quota issue to divert the attention, especially from the ongoing farmers’ protest against three central government farm laws. “Farmer issues are important, but the central government is not looking into it seriously. On the contrary, BJP leaders are defaming farmers by alleging the hand of Pakistan and China in it. Issues raised by farmers are justifiable and they can be resolved through negotiations, but the Centre is not keen about it,” he alleged.
As far as the Maratha quota issue is concerned, Pawar said it is being heard in the Supreme Court. “When the Maratha quota case is in the Supreme Court, can anyone argue it before the state government?” he asked. Pawar stated that except the Maratha reservation issue, the state government was ready to discuss any other issues related to the Maratha community.
“Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, PWD Minister Ashok Chavan and other cabinet ministers are regularly interacting with the Maratha community leaders and organisations. Rajya Sabha Member of the Parliament (MP) Chhatrapati Shivaji said that he was happy about the government’s efforts towards the restoration of the Maratha reservation,” said Pawar. He reminded that the apex court had postponed the hearing to January and added that the government will deploy leading lawyers to argue its case.
Pawar reminded that the government has retained the legal team deployed by the BJP-led government and also roped in new lawyers so that they can strongly argue the government’s side. “Despite this, if BJP wants to politicise and mislead the Maratha community, nobody can stop them,” he noted.
Further, Chavan said the Maratha quota cannot be a political issue, as all stakeholders need to be together keeping aside the politics. “The Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Act was passed in 2018 when BJP was heading the government, but it was supported by all and passed unanimously in the state legislature. Let BJP continue to play politics, the state government is fully with the Maratha community and also for the restoration of the quota,” he viewed.
Earlier, BJP legislators sat on the steps of Vidhan Bhavan and shouted slogans against the state government for its failure to restore the Maratha reservation. Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis claimed that the government was not serious and it was running away from the issue.
Meanwhile, some Maratha community activists staged an agitation at Fort on the issue.