Months after facing severe protests, the Maharashtra Government has decided to provide reservations in jobs and education for the Maratha community. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced the same following the recommendations of State Backward Class Commission.
The Maharashtra Backward Class Commission had submitted its report a few days back declaring Maratha community as a socially, economically and educationally backward community. Following the Commission’s recommendation, the Devendra Fadnavis government on Sunday cleared the reservation for Marathas under a new, independent category called ‘Socially and Educationally Backward Class (SEBC)’.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis speaking to the media on Sunday said, “We have taken the decision to give Maratha community reservation under the newly created, independent category, Socially and Educationally Backward Class… There is adequate provision in the Indian Constitution to extend reservation to a community, provided its social, educational and financial backwardness is established.”
Maratha community has been classified as a special category in an attempt to avoid any legal and constitutional complications and also to distinguish between Marathas and OBCs. “Since Marathas will be considered as a separate category, there is no question of any community losing its share of quota in government education or jobs,” said Fadnavis.
Reportedly, the total reservation in Maharashtra is 52 per cent currently with 13 per cent for Scheduled Castes, 7 per cent for Scheduled Tribes, 19 per cent for Other Backward Classes, 2 per cent for Special Backward Classes, 3 per cent for Vimukta Jati, 2.5 per cent for Nomadic Tribe-B, 3.5 per cent for Nomadic Tribe-C (Dhangar) and 2 per cent for Nomadic Tribe-D (Vanjari).
The Maratha community has demanded 16 per cent reservation, which will take the total reservations to whopping 68 per cent in the state against the Supreme Court’s directive of limiting reservation to 50 per cent. The Maharashtra government has decided to create a Cabinet sub-committee to fix the quantum of reservations and implement the reservation for the special category.
Answering the media’s question regarding the Supreme Court’s directive on limiting reservations to 50 per cent, Fadnavis said, “There is no such provision for a ceiling on quota in the Indian Constitution. On the contrary, the Constitution provides for quota under extraordinary and exceptional cases, when a community’s backwardness is documentarily established.”
Pointing out at Tamil Nadu’s reservation policy, which has provided 69 per cent reservation in the state, Fadnavis said even though the policy has been challenged in the Supreme Court, it has not stayed the reservation in the state.
The politically dominant Marathas constitute 33 per cent of the state population and have been dominated the state politics for over six decades. According to the State Backward Class Commission’s report submitted on Thursday, the percentage of Marathas below the poverty line was 37.28 per cent, higher than the 25 per cent base. The percentage of those with small and marginal land-holdings among Marathas was 62.78 per cent, much higher than the base 48.25 per cent which is considered for social-economic backwardness.
The Maratha agitation demanding reservation has been on for two decades but the movement gathered steam in July 2016. Many Maratha organisations like Maratha Kranti Morcha took to the street demanding reservations in jobs and education in the state.
Rajendra Kondane, Maratha Kranti Morcha coordinator, reacting to the Cabinet’s decision said, “It is a historical decision. The Maratha reservation demand was pending for several decades. The government should now take the process forward and ensure its enforcement at the earliest, after completing the legal and constitutional process.”
Anil Mahajan, head of the OBC Kranti Parishad, however, said that they have nothing to complain about the reservation and expressed concern saying that the new reservation policy should not affect the existing reservation quotas.
Meanwhile, following reservation to Marathas in the state, many Muslim leaders and Dhangar community leaders of Maharashtra have written a letter to Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis demanding reservation in jobs and education sector for the minority community.