Warning that the intense displeasure prevailing amongst the Maratha community could spiral out of control, Bharatiya Janata Party MP Udayanraje Bhosale on Sunday said if the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra government failed to get the Maratha quota law implemented in the State, then reservation for all communities ought to be scrapped.
Mr. Bhosale, a direct descendant of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji and influential community leader from Satara, called for a merit-based approach.
“Very often, students from the Maratha community fail to secure admission despite getting good grades as their fellow students, despite getting lower marks, get through by availing of reservation benefits… this is unfair and a major source of the frustration currently prevailing among Maratha community youth,” said Mr. Bhosale, who recently said he was willing to resign from his post if the quota law was not implemented in the State.
A number of Maratha leaders led by Shiv Sangram chief Vinayak Mete conferred with Mr. Bhosale, a Rajya Sabha MP, at his residence in Satara to discuss the impasse over the implementation of the Maratha quota law. It is believed a number of outfits and community leaders have urged Mr. Bhosale to take the lead in the agitation. “Even before the Bills for Maratha reservation were passed by the then Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP government in 2018, I had been arguing for scrapping of all reservations on caste lines and instead making them on financial criteria… but, that it did not happen,” Mr. Bhosale said.
Mr. Bhosale was earlier with Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). He joined the BJP before the Lok Sabha elections last year, only to be trounced by the NCP’s Shriniwas Patil.
The storm of the Maratha agitation throughout 2018 saw Mr. Bhosale cast in the role of a possibly important mediator between the community’s interests and the then BJP government. At the time, Mr. Bhosale had chaired a Maratha Parishad in Pune in August 2018. Sources said a similar brainstorming meeting on the delayed implementation of the Maratha quota would be held on October 3 in Pune.
‘Bhosale should lead’
Mr. Mete said he had come to invite Mr. Bhosale for the session. “Chhatrapati Udayanraje Bhosale must take the lead in this fight… as a direct descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji, he has the capability to unite the different Maratha outfits and ensure the justice that has been denied the community so long,” said Mr. Mete.
Meanwhile, several activists of the Maratha Kranti Morcha held a big demonstration in Pune, surrounding offices of various political parties, including the NCP and the BJP. Girish Bapat, BJP MP from Pune, who met the protesters, targeted the government for its failure to make the quota law stick in the Supreme Court.
Mr. Bapat said, “When our party was in power in Maharashtra, we ensured that the Maratha Bill that we got passed in the Assembly endured in the Bombay High Court. Why couldn’t the ruling government show the same tenacity and fight hard for the community’s interests in the Supreme Court to get the quota law implemented in Maharashtra?”
‘Not keen on EWS quota’
Meanwhile, Rajendra Kondhare, convenor of the Maratha Kranti Morcha, said the community was not interested in the benefits under the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) quota recently extended by the Chief Minister to pacify the restive community.
“The first priority of this government is to urge the Supreme Court Bench to vacate the stay on the implementation of the Maratha quota law. Until that happens, we are not interested in the insubstantial EWS quota benefits,” he said.