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  Opinion   Edit  01 Nov 2023  AA Edit | Maratha quota poser for Shinde

AA Edit | Maratha quota poser for Shinde

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Nov 1, 2023, 11:53 pm IST
Updated : Nov 1, 2023, 11:53 pm IST

The demand for a Maratha quota started in the 1980s coinciding with the Mandal Commission debate.

 Eknath Shinde, Chief Minister of Maharashtra. (Photo: Rajesh Jadhav)
  Eknath Shinde, Chief Minister of Maharashtra. (Photo: Rajesh Jadhav)

The violent Maratha quota protests are posing a unique challenge to the Eknath Shinde government. It is not in a position to use force to crush the protests due to political compulsions and it does not does not have a magic bullet to satisfy protesters immediately. On the other hand, Manoj Jarange-Patil, a common man who has become the face of the protests, wants nothing but instant “justice”.

The demand for a Maratha quota started in the 1980s coinciding with the Mandal Commission debate. Initially, the protests did not have mass participation in the absence of a legitimate basis for the demand as the Marathas were seen as a comparatively prosperous and influential caste with no historical evidence of discrimination against them.

The current situation is different in that Mr Jarange-Patil, with no political background, is not ready to compromise on his demand for reservation from the OBC category, which looks impractical. The other dominant group in Maharashtra — the OBCS — are against it and the Shinde government finds itself between a rock and a hard place.

The Centre must step in. Though the Maratha reservation issue is limited to Maharashtra, there are similar demands in other states as well. The caste census is needed to put to rest apprehensions of unfair representation. The 50 per cent reservation limit needs to be examined again for which the Centre must work with the Supreme Court. India needs protective discrimination to bring certain sections into the mainstream. The benefits of reservation must go to the worthy and not to the privileged class within the reservation categories.

In 2008, the Maharashtra State Other Backward Classes Commission had ruled that the Marathas are a forward community and cannot be given reservation. The then Congress-NCP government urged the commission to reconsider, but the plea was rejected in 2013. The Prithviraj Chavan government in July 2014 promulgated an ordinance providing for 16 per cent additional reservation to the Maratha caste. It was set aside by the Bombay high court.

The BJP-Shiv Sena government then carried out another exercise of collecting so-called empirical data and provided reservation to Marathas, adding 12 per cent in education and 13 per cent in jobs for them, the total proportion of reservation in the state increasing to 64-65 per cent. It was struck down by the Supreme Court on the ground that there was no extraordinary situation to breach the 50 per cent cap on reservation.

Tags: eknath shinde, aa edit, maratha quota