Maratha quota stir: Devendra Fadnavis says special session of Maharashtra Assembly will be convened to discuss issue

Mumbai: A special session of the Maharashtra legislature would be convened to pass 'a law or a resolution' regarding reservation for the Marathas, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Saturday as political parties pledged support for a quota in jobs for the influential community.

Fadnavis appealed for peace in the state, rocked by violent protests over the quota issue this week, and announced withdrawal of certain cases against the members of the community, seeking a 16 percent reservation in government jobs and education.

Speaking to reporters after chairing an all-party meeting on the quota issue, Fadnavis said the special session of the House would be called after the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission submitted its report to the state government.

The commission, headed by Justice (retired) MG Gaikwad, is carrying out a survey to ascertain the economic and social backwardness prevailing among the Marathas, a land-owning community that constitutes 30 percent of the state's population.

The panel is expected to submit its report in four months.

Devendra Fadnavis addressing the media on Saturday. PTI

Devendra Fadnavis addressing the media on Saturday. PTI

"We will pass a law or a resolution in the legislature, based on the recommendation of the commission, to fulfil a constitutional requirement. The government has already requested the commission to complete its survey on the economic and social backwardness of the community at the earliest," Fadnavis said, adding that there was no delay on the part of the government.

He said the government would also try to rectify the lacunae in the earlier law (passed during the Congress-NCP rule) that granted reservations to the Maratha community and which was stayed by the Bombay High Court.

Fadnavis said police cases registered against the quota agitators, except those related to serious offences like assault on police personnel, violence and arson, would be withdrawn.

The chief minister, who also holds the home portfolio, said the director general of police was directed to look into the matter and review the cases.

"The grievances of the Maratha community can be addressed through deliberations on the judicial and legislative platforms. Nothing can be achieved by resorting to violence," he said.

The BJP leaded added that the 57 "mook morchas" (silent protests) taken out by the community across the state in the past in support of the quota demand were hailed as a model form of protest.

He assured the Maratha community that a mega recruitment drive would be carried out to fill up government posts and this would be done by ensuring that the existing quota for the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes was not affected.

A fee-waiver scheme in professional courses for the students of economically backward classes, including those from the community, would be strictly implemented, the chief minister said.

"If a college does not admit Maratha students by charging 50 percent fees (as part of the fee-waiver scheme), it would be de-recognised. We are willing to talk to the colleges if they have any difficulties," he added.

"The government will take up with the State Level Banking Committee (SLBC) the complaints that the banks are asking for collateral security for granting financial assistance to those from the backward communities under a scheme of the Annabhau Sathe Development Corporation," the chief minister said.

He informed that construction of hostels for Maratha students was nearing completion in Pune and Kolhapur, while eight more such facilities were being built in other districts.

Meanwhile, a joint statement of all the political parties, released after the meeting, appealed to the community to maintain peace. It was signed by Assembly Speaker Haribhau Bagde, Council Chairman Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar and leaders of all other political parties.

Against the backdrop of some agitators trying to end their lives during the quota stir, the statement urged the protesters not to resort to such acts.

"There is a consensus among the political class regarding reservation to the Marathas. The government will take the necessary steps and the Opposition parties will fully cooperate in all endeavours," the statement said.

"It was decided to appeal to the State Backward Class Commission to submit its report at the earliest. And to fulfil the Constitutional requirement, a special session (of the legislature) would be convened," it added.

Opposition leaders such as Ajit Pawar, Chhagan Bhujbal, Dhananjay Munde of the NCP and the Congress's Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil stated that the all-party meeting should have been convened earlier.

Pawar said the Opposition leaders would approach the commission with a request to submit its report at the earliest.

A large part of Maharashtra, including Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and the Marathwada region, saw widespread violence during the protests by the Maratha community this week.

Half a dozen MLAs from different political parties have announced their resignation to express solidarity with the community.


Updated Date: Jul 28, 2018 22:36 PM

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