Maratha quota agitation: Two more Maharashtra MLAs, including a BJP legislator, quit in support of demand

Mumbai: Two more MLAs from Maharashtra Thursday announced their decision to quit in support of the Maratha quota demand, a day after as many legislators offered to resign for the cause.

The MLAs are Bharat Bhalke (Congress) and Rahul Aher (BJP).

Bhalke, who represents Pandharpur seat in Solapur district, said he would resign from the legislative assembly to express solidarity with the quota protests.

Talking to PTI from Pandharpur, Bhalke said he had visited the family of Maratha youth Kakasaheb Shinde, who had committed suicide by jumping into the Godavari river in Aurangabad district on 23 July.

 Maratha quota agitation: Two more Maharashtra MLAs, including a BJP legislator, quit in support of demand

Maratha leaders protest for reservations for the community under the OBC category. PTI

"The sentiments of the Maratha youth are intense. There is lot of unrest (among them) over the lack of (job) opportunities. Promises made to them have not been fulfilled. I have decided to resign to express my solidarity with the Maratha quota protesters as well as in support of the demand for quota by Dhangars and other deprived communities," Bhalke said.

Members of Dhangar (the shepherd) community have been demanding reservation under the Scheduled Tribes (ST) category.

"I am quitting membership of the Assembly to highlight the unrest among the Marathas, Dhangars, Muslims and Mahadeo Koli communities," he said.

Bhalke said the Maharashtra government had stayed the previous Congress government's decision to allot quota for Muslims even though the (Bombay) high court had not passed any adverse comment on the Muslim reservation.

The Bombay High Court had in 2014 stayed implementation of the erstwhile Congress-NCP government's decision to provide reservation to Marathas.

The HC had also stayed the government's decision to provide five percent reservation to the Muslims in government service, but allowed quotas for them in educational institutions.

Aher, who represents Chandwad seat in Nashik district, also announced before the Maratha protesters in Nashik that he would resign as MLA.

He handed over his resignation letter to the Maratha Kranti Morcha activists, who were fasting in protest outside the district collector's office this afternoon.

"Please treat this letter as my resignation. Whenever required, the Maratha community members could hand it over to Assembly Speaker," he stated.

On Wednesday two MLAs - Harshvardhan Jadhav (Shiv Sena) and Bhausaheb Patil Chikatgaonkar (NCP) - from Aurangabad district had offered to resign in support of the quota demand.

Aurangabad district in Marathwada region has emerged as the epicentre of the Maratha quota agitation.

Jadhav, who represents Kannad assembly constituency, submitted his resignation letter in the office of the Legislative Assembly Speaker Thursday morning.

Chikatgaonkar (Vaijapur) said he had e-mailed his resignation to the Speaker and would submit a hard copy of the same when he visits Mumbai.

In 288-member Maharashtra Assembly, the Shiv Sena has 63 MLAs and the NCP 41.

The Maratha community has been demanding quota under the OBC category in government jobs and education.

The members of the community held protests in various parts of Maharashtra for their demands in the last two days and have observed bandhs in Mumbai and rest of the state. The protests had turned violent at many places.

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Updated Date: Jul 26, 2018 22:16:37 IST