Amid campaign by the Marathas across Maharashtra for reservation in government jobs and educational institutions, the ruling Bharatiya Janta Party said on Thursday that it was committed to meet the demand of the community without upsetting the existing OBC quota.
Considering that the Maratha community is seeking 16 percent reservation, the government will face difficulty in the Supreme Court, for the quota limit for the state is set at 50 percent.
The resolution, moved by Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil, was adopted, state BJP president Raosaheb Danve.
"BJP will provide 16 percent reservation to Marathas in government jobs and educational institutions," Danve said.
The state BJP chief said that there is no provision for quota on the basis of religion.
The BJP criticised opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party for "ignoring" the Maratha community, which constitutes 30 percent of the population in the state, after allegedly using it as their vote bank for years.
Before the 2014 state Assembly elections, the then Congress-NCP dispensation had approved 16 percent reservation for Marathas and five percent for Muslims in government jobs and educational institutions. The decision, however, was challenged in the court, where it is pending.
According to a report by The Indian Express, Education Minister Vinod Tawde, who was the leader of the Opposition in the former government, had earlier too sought a reservation system implemented by the Tamil Nadu.
The "silent marches" taken out by the Maratha Kranti Morcha around Maharashtra to highlight their demands have elicited a huge response, creating ripples in state politics.
According to observers, all main parties — BJP, Congress, Shiv Sena and NCP — are unnerved by the turnout at the rallies, highlighting demands like reservation in jobs and educational institutions, though the immediate trigger being the rape and murder of a girl from the community at Kopardi in Ahmednagar.
More than 20 rallies have already taken place across the state over the last one-and-a-half months.
Danve said that a resolution supporting the demand of Maratha reservations would be discussed and adopted at the state executive meeting.
The Indian Express reported that BJP’s political managers find two major challenges with the Maratha reservation — one is related to the Supreme Court directive that the quotas cannot exceed 51 percent and the second challenge is proving that the Marathas are a socially backward community. The government is planning to submit a 1200-page document to establish the Marathas’ social backwardness.
Tamil Nadu- type reservation
In Tamil Nadu, the population of backward classes is 87 percent. According to the 1994 Act, the reservation in the state is 69 percent with the breakdown of 30 seats for other backward classes (OBC), 20 seats for most backward class (MBS), 18 seats for schedule classes (SC) and 1 seat for schedule tribe (ST).
In Maharashtra, the total reservation is 51 percent. Communities like scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, VJNT/nomadic and other backward castes can avail this reservation. If the Maharashtra government decides to provide an excess 16 percent quota to the Maratha community then the total figure goes up to 67 percent, starting a legal battle with the Supreme Court much similar to the one in Tamil Nadu.
The TN reservation is different from the rest of the country by nature of its history. It is wide-known that Tamil Nadu politics function on caste-based politics. In 1969, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government found that the MBCs have a very small ratio in the government services and colleges and hence recommended a separate quota for them.
Hence in 1971 the then government hiked the reservation for BC to 31 percent from 25 percent and for the SC and ST to 18 percent.
This was further increased during the 1980 All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) rule, where the Backward Class secured a reservation of 50 percent, a hike from the existing 31 percent.
The Tamil Nadu reservation gets viewed in a different light considering the high population of the backward classes in the state and the caste-based politics practiced there.
It is yet to be seen if the Maharashtra government can pull off a similar reservation model.