Maratha quota | ‘We do not want BJP to stir the cauldron further’

It should influence Centre to ensure justice to community, say leaders

With the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), sensing an opportunity to corner the ruling Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government over the Maratha quota imbroglio, deciding to join quota agitation, coordinators of the Maratha outfits are wary of the saffron party’s participation.

A number of community leaders are fretting that the BJP’s participation could give an unwarranted political twist to the quota drama and derail the community’s efforts to secure reservation.

Maratha leader from Pimpri-Chinchwad, Maruti Bhapkar, has said instead of planning future agitations, the leaders must try to use their influence with the Centre to ensure that the community gets justice.

“We do not want their protests against the ruling MVA at this stage…after the Supreme Court’s disappointing verdict, the onus now clearly is on the BJP-ruled Centre to convince the apex court and ensure that the Marathas get reservation. So, the State BJP leadership would do better to use their influence to get the Centre to throw their weight behind this problem,” Mr. Bhapkar said.

He rued that till now, the reservation issue had been sacrificed at the altar of regional power politics.

“The problem is political parties are hungry to take credit…our agitations for reservations have already cost the lives of 42 youth. They are extremely demoralised by the Supreme Court’s verdict. We do not want the BJP to stir the cauldron further,” said Mr. Bhapkar, who was earlier associated with both the Shiv Sena and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

He urged Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, consider a community strongman, to actively look into this issue.

“Despite being such a tall community leader, Mr. Pawar’s behaviour over the issue has been guarded to the point of insensitivity. As the architect of the MVA alliance, he has an obligation to resolve this matter…a dark cloud hangs over the future of lakhs of poor Maratha youth as a result of the court’s judgment. It is time politicians stop using the community to seek political mileage,” Mr. Bhapkar said, observing that the only course of action now was to sort out the issue in a legal manner rather than resorting to street protests.

Vinod Patil, a coordinator of the “Maratha Kranti Morcha” which has been spearheading the quota agitation, said a review petition had already been filed by him in the Apex court challenging the majority view of the Constitution Bench that only the Centre, and not the State, had the power under the 102nd Constitution Amendment to identify and list the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes.

“Now that the Centre has come into the picture, it should not sit on the fence but take an active part in resolving this issue. Furthermore, State BJP leaders must follow the matter up with the Centre and support the State government instead of indulging in slanging matches with them,” he said.

On Tuesday, parallel meetings were held on the issue by both the Cabinet sub-committee on the quota issue headed by Public Works Department (PWD) Minister Ashok Chavan and the Oppistion BJP, in which State leaders including Devendra Fadnavis and Chandrakant Patil, participated.

The State government has already appointed a seven-member committee headed by former Chief Justice Dilip Bhosale to study the Supreme Court order on the reservation. His report is expected to be submitted by the end of this month after which the State government would decide the future course of action.

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