Shiv Sena, opposition step up demand for quota
The opposition added demands for quota of other castes such as Dhangars (shepherd), Lingayats, and Mahadev Koli apparently to broadbase the protest
Mumbai: Barely two days after all political parties agreed not to indulge in politics over the Maratha quota, the opposition in Maharashtra and the Shiv Sena stepped up pressure on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government in the state to resolve the issue at the earliest.
The opposition added demands for quota of other castes such as Dhangars (shepherd), Lingayats, and Mahadev Koli apparently to broadbase the protest. The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) also demanded quota for the Muslims. The Shiv Sena, however, stuck to the demand for the Maratha quota only.
Congress and NCP legislators independently met governor C. Vidyasagar Rao on Monday to demand the latter’s intervention. A delegation of Shiv Sena ministers and legislators met chief minister Devendra Fadnavis asking him to call a special session of the state legislature without waiting for the report of the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission
Earlier in the day, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray held a meeting of Sena legislators on the issue. The state government should not wait for the commission report and should instead call the special session immediately to pass a unanimous resolution giving quota to Marathas, Thackeray said after the meeting.
“Such a unanimous resolution should be passed and sent to the centre,” Thackeray said. He said quota should be given to the Marathas without disturbing the constitutional reservations already being given to other castes and communities.
Later in the day, Congress and NCP delegations independently met M.G. Gaikwad, chairman of the state backward class commission, to request an early submission of the report the commission is drafting to recommend quota for the Marathas.
Maharashtra Congress president Ashok Chavan said that “an explosive situation was developing in the state” over the issue and the Congress was seeking the governor’s intervention. Chavan said the Congress legislators in the state were in the mood to resign en masse from the legislature to register their protest but added that no final decision had yet been taken.
“Sentiments are running high among Congress legislators on this issue. We demand that Marathas, Muslims, and Dhangars be given the benefit of quota at the earliest,” Chavan said.
So far, eight legislators cutting across parties have offered to resign from the legislature to express their solidarity with the Marathas and put pressure on the government. However, only one legislator—Sena’s Harshwardhan Jadhav—has submitted his resignation to the assembly speaker who has not yet accepted it.
Chavan said the BJP and Shiv Sena had not taken a clear position on the issue and were misleading the communities that were demanding quota.
Meanwhile, the Maratha protest again took a violent turn in the automobile hub of Chakan near Pune when protestors torched nearly 12 vehicles and damaged 50 more. Some passengers travelling in these vehicles were injured in stone pelting and a police inspector with the Chakan police station also suffered injuries. The Pune-Nashik highway was closed for more than five hours till the last report came in.