After the day-long protest in south Mumbai, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis announced that concessions in education that the other backward classes (OBCs) get will be extended to the Maratha community , skirting the core demand of reservation in education and jobs. The sops will cost the cash-strapped state a sum of Rs 500 crore.
Fadnavis, who met a delegation of the community along with other leaders from the opposition in Vidhan Bhavan, said currently the Maratha community was getting fee concessions in 35 streams and in future it would be extended to cover all the 605 courses, the Muslim community will also be eligible for the same. The eligibility percentage has been reduced from 60 to 50.
Under the Rajarshi Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj Shikshan Shulk Shishyavrutti Yojana, the state government reimburses 50% fees of economically backward class students pursuing professional courses.The state government also announced an interest-free loan up to Rs 10 lakh to encourage self-employment amongst Marathas. A fund of Rs 200 crore has already been created for this purpose. On the issue of quotas, Fad navis said that the decision to give 16% reservation to the Maratha community has been challenged in the Bombay high court, which has asked the state to show the grounds of “social and cultural backward ness“. The government has set up a backward class commission to collect data and submit a report to the HC. “We will request the commission to submit the report in a time-bound manner,“ said Fadnavis.
Officials said the challenge for the state government is that there are Supreme Court orders, which have stipulated that reservations should be more than 50%, Maharashta has already reached the limit.The government may have to rejig its current reservation pattern, which may not go down well with the respective communities.
Protesters have demanded justice in the Kopardi gang-rape case involving a minr girl.“We have fast-tracked the case and appointed Ujjwal Nikam as the public prosecutor in the case and in 5 months 31witnesses have been examined. The defence counsel is trying delaying tactics for which they have been fined by the court. The verdict will be out soon,“ said Fadnavis. The government would impart training to 3 lakh wards of farmers under a skill development program. He added that state government would provide a grant of Rs 5 crore for building hostels for Maratha students in every district in addition to providing land for it.
State dragging feet on quotas: Oppn & activist
Leader of opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, former chief minister Narayan Rane and senior NCP leader Ajit Pawar criticized the government for the delay in providing reservation for Marathas. “The CM's statement on Maratha reservation is misleading, there appears to be lack of commitment,“ said Vikhe-Patil.
Maratha activist Vinod Patil said it was expected that since Marathas from all over the state had gathered in Mumbai Fadnavis would announce an action plan for providing reservation for Marathas. “The CM has shifted the issue to the backward classes commission, it may take months and even years as there is uncertainty over reservations,“ Patil said. The Maratha leaders are expected to meet in a day or two to decide the future course.