Mumbai, Jan 27 :After resolving the Maratha quota imbroglio, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Saturday declared that he had kept his word on the issue and would ensure constitutionality while safeguarding the interests of other communities.
However, the Opposition parties slammed the move, with the Congress asking whether the government was “deceiving the Marathas or the OBCs” by creating confusion on the Maratha quota issue.
“I have kept my vow taken before Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. I don’t indulge in vote-bank politics. This is to ensure social justice. It will be done within the legal framework while taking care that the interests of other communities are not affected,” said Shinde.
He was speaking in Vashi town of Navi Mumbai after handing over a copy of the government notification, symbolically dated January 26, 2024, to Shivba Sanghatana leader Manoj Jarange-Patil and offering him fruit juice to break his three-day-long hunger strike.
The CM also explained in detail how the various demands of the Maratha community had been conceded as Jarange-Patil expressed his gratitude and felicitated Shinde.
Congress state President Nana Patole said that the government’s stand was to give Maratha quotas without disturbing the reservations of other communities, but if the government has accepted the Maratha demand for quotas from the OBCs, “then the OBCs have been cheated.”
“The government’s decision is still not clear. It has only issued a notification and invited objections, this is not an Ordinance or a GR to give Kunbi (OBC) certificates to the eligible Marathas. The government is trying to confuse and mislead even the Marathas,” said Patole.
Legal expert Barrister Vinod Tiwari said that in Saturday’s notification, the word “Sage-Suyare” would pave the way for issuing millions of new certificates to the Marathas and others.
“If these new rules come into effect, the OBC concession originally meant for Backward Classes like Kunbi, Mali, Teli, Kalar, goldsmith, tailor, Khati, barber, Kumbhar, etc, then not a single OBC candidate will get a government job in this category after the Marathas are accommodated as OBCs, since they are a dominant force in society,” said Tiwari.
Shinde’s Cabinet Minister Chhagan Bhujbal said that the notification would not stand legal scrutiny, while other OBC leaders reiterated that if their quotas were affected they would challenge it and agitate against the Maharashtra Government.
Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that the Maratha quotas would not affect any other community, and announced that the process to withdraw police cases against Marathas had started.
State Congress General Secretary Sachin Sawant questioned the government’s claims that lakhs of Kunbi OBC certificates have been issued to the Marathas, and said that instead of misleading, the government should clearly declare the quotas for the Marathas.
Recalling how senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has demanded a nationwide Caste Census, Patole said that the Centre should take suitable measures to modify the 50 per cent limit on quotas in the Parliament session starting next week.
Meanwhile, amidst a huge political scare in the past few days, lakhs of Marathas slowly started returning to their homes across the state after their major demands were met and the notification was issued.