Maharashtra government gives nod to Maratha reservation, CM Fadnavis announces new ‘SEBC’ category

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government on Sunday cleared the decks for Maratha reservation, a volatile issue which is a sticking point with courts but can yield a rich political harvest, if deftly handled in an election year. Maharashtra already has 52 per cent reservation and if the state government carves out an additional quota for the Marathas – a figure of 16% is being cited — the special provision will get stretched to 68 per cent. This, however, is far beyond the 50 per cent cap set by the Supreme Court for states.

After a Cabinet meeting on Sunday, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced a separate category of Socially-Educationally Backward Class (SEBC) in the State. Maratha reservation will fall in this category and approved over and above the existing 52 per cent reservation in the State, sources said. The State Backward Class Commission had recommended reservation for Marathas, as the situation in the State was ‘extraordinary and exceptional,’ the chief minister said, giving the rationale behind the move.

Speaking with media persons on the eve of winter session, Fadnavis said, “Marathas will get reservation in education and government jobs only, where they are not adequately represented. However, they will not get reservation in politics because the commission felt they are well-entrenched and represented in this field,” sources claimed.

Describing the quota demand as patently legal, Fadnavis said, “It is indeed an extraordinary and exceptional situation in Maharashtra. Only the State government can take appropriate action in this regard. Hence the cabinet decided to create SEBC — a separate class — and give separate reservation to the Marathas. As per Supreme Court guidelines, this is an exceptional situation. So, we will go above 50 percent.”

At 69 per cent, Tamil Nadu is the only state in the country which has over 50 per cent reservation in employment and educational institutions, despite the Supreme Court order. The cabinet has also decided to form a subcommittee of ministers to decide the quantum of reservation. “We have not yet decided whether it will be 16 percent or not,” said the chief minister, when asked to go into specifics. The erstwhile Congress-Nationalist Congress government had taken a decision to grant 16 percent reservation to Marathas before the 2014 assembly polls.

The CM denied the possibility of taking a grant from the Central government or the National Commission for Backward Classes before implementing the quota decision. “There is no need to take approval of the National Backward Class Commission,” he said. However, the government has to inform the Centre about the ‘extraordinary and exceptional situation’ of the community, so that the State can grant the quota. The state will table the report of the commission in the House in the ensuing session. The Congress and the NCP are in favour of the quota and it is expected both will support the bill for Marathas. Dhananjay Munde, leader of opposition in the legislative council, said, “The government should present the report on reservation and declare reservations to Maratha community. This should be done tomorrow (Monday) itself. We fear that the government may fool the Marathas.”


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