Special session will be held to grant Maratha quota if needed, says Maharashtra CM

Nagpur: A special session of the state legislature will be held in February 2024, if necessary, to provide reservation to the Maratha community after reviewing a report of the Backward Class Commission, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde told the assembly here on Tuesday.

He was speaking during a discussion on the reservation issue, explaining the steps taken by the government so far. Opposition MLAs, however, claimed that the assurance was not concrete enough and staged a walkout from the House.

“The Justice Shinde Committee set up on the issue of Maratha quota has submitted its report to the state government. The report of the Maharashtra Commission for Backward Classes will be submitted in a month. After reviewing it, if required, we will convene a special session of the legislature in February to provide reservation to the Maratha community,” the chief minister said.

“The state government will establish that the Maratha community is socially and educationally backward (and hence deserves reservation in government jobs and admissions to educational institutions),” he said.

Opposition MLAs walked out in protest after the CM’s statement.

The reply was an eyewash and Shinde did not give any concrete assurance or take a concrete stand which was expected before December 24, said leaders of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA).

Leader of Opposition in the assembly Vijay Wadettiwar, senior Congress leaders Prithviraj Chavan, Ashok Chavan and Balasaheb Thorat, Shiv Sena (UBT)’s Sunil Prabhu and others spoke to the media afterward on the Vidhan Bhavan premises.

Wadettiwar said the chief minister’s reply was deceptive, and there was no concrete promise, nor did the government give any timeframe for resolving the issue.

Would the government say anything definite on December 24, the date by which it had promised to resolve the issue earlier, the Congress leader said, adding that the Shinde government had left the Marathas, OBCs as well as the Dhangar community high and dry.

The government wanted to put off the issue till the elections are announced and then offer the excuse of the model code of conduct, Wadettiwar claimed.

Congress leader Ashok Chavan echoed the claim that the government wanted to drag out the issue till the code of conduct was in force.

The Opposition heard out the CM’s reply patiently and without creating any disruption, he noted.

“We all were anxious and expecting that the state government would make clear its stand on the Maratha reservation before December 24. We cooperated with the government, and we wanted to put forth our stand on the issues raised by the government. But, we were not allowed to speak and the Speaker did not act impartially,” the former chief minister said.

NCP (Sharad Pawar faction) leader Jayant Patil said the chief minister did not give a reply to the serious issues raised by the opposition and has failed to decide before December 24. The talk of the special session was an eyewash, he said.

While a section of the Maratha community including activist Manoj Jarange is pressing for the inclusion of the community in the OBC category, OBC leaders including senior minister Chhagan Bhujbal are opposed to the proposal.