Hurling a political challenge at the opposition Congress-NCP combine, the BJP has suggested 16% reservation for Marathas in jobs and education in the state.
A resolution to this effect was passed by the party’s state executive committee on Thursday. “The state executive is of the view that Marathas should be given 16% reservation. We have redeemed our pledge by passing a resolution on the reservation issue,” Maharashtra BJP chief Raosaheb Danve said at a news conference on Wednesday after the state executive wrapped up its two-day deliberations.
By offering the reservation sop to the Maratha community, which has for the last two months been holding mammoth morchas across Maharashtra over the issue and for other demands as well, the BJP aims to stymie the opposition Congress-NCP combine and also make inroads into the community’s strongholds, said political experts.
Moreover, the BJP’s 16% reservation proposal comes ahead of the statewide civic and zilla parishad elections, which will test the BJP’s and the Congress-NCP’s political clout at the grassroots level.
Senior Congress-NCP leaders have been coming down heavily on the Devendra Fadnavis government for hemming and hawing on the Maratha reservation imbroglio, even as the politically-articulate community continued to bring out morchas in major towns of the state in an impressive show of solidarity. Senior BJP minister Chandrakant Patil, who moved the resolution on the last day of the state executive meeting, lambasted the Congress-NCP leadership for ignoring the demands of the Maratha community for “too long”, it is learnt.
“The Congress-NCP was in office in Maharashtra for 15 years. Even after such a long stint in power, the two parties did practically nothing to improve the lot of the Maratha community. The so-called Maratha leaders were content enjoying fruits of power,” Patil alleged. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis presided over a high-power co-ordination committee meeting on Wednesday at his official Mumbai residence to discuss urgent legal and administrative measures to provide reservation to Marathas.
Education minister Vinod Tawde said the state government was keen on going ahead with the Maratha reservation. “We will provide all information to the courts on the matter,” Tawde said. Lawyer Harish Salve and former advocate-general of Maharashtra Ravi Kadam will represent the state government in the court.