Maratha reservation: Maharashtra CM writes to President, PM

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Six days after the Supreme Court (SC) quashed the Maratha quota in government jobs and education, the state government wrote a letter to President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi over the issue. Chief minister (CM) Uddhav Thackeray met Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Tuesday evening to submit the letter addressed to the President and Modi. CM said they will also be meeting Modi to seek the quota for the community.

Chief minister (CM) Uddhav Thackeray met Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Tuesday evening to submit the letter addressed to the President.

“Today’s meeting with the Governor was in the backdrop of the SC’s last week decision in which it said that the states didn’t have an authority to grant reservation to a community. This right is with the Centre and the President. In response to the verdict, I had said that the state government will approach the President and the PM. To make the request and express our feelings, we met the Governor. He assured to convey [about the letter] to the President at the earliest,” CM told reporters outside Raj Bhavan.

Thackeray led a delegation comprising senior ministers and leaders from all the three ruling parties — Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress. He was accompanied by deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, public works department (PWD) minister Ashok Chavan, home minister Dilip Walse Patil, revenue minister Balasaheb Thorat, urban development minister Eknath Shinde, state NCP chief Jayant Patil and Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole to meet the Governor.

“SEBC Act was unanimously passed by the state legislature. It wasn’t just our decision but that of the entire state. We believe that the community should get its right. We will soon be meeting the PM in this regard and request him to take a decision,” he added.

In his five-page letter, Thackeray requested the President to taking appropriate steps to grant 12% and 13% reservation to the Marathas in education and government jobs, respectively, by referring to the Apex court’s May 5 decision that the authority of identifying a community as ‘Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC)’ and providing them reservation lies only with the President and the Central government since August 2018 following the 102nd Amendment in Constitution.

It also narrated the ways the state government had adopted for providing reservation to the Maratha community – from promulgating an ordinance in 2014 to holding legal battles in the Bombay high court and subsequently in the Apex court till May 5 – till the quota was quashed. SC had observed that people from a community cannot be declared educationally and socially backward just to bring them in the reserved category.

“Resultantly, the aforesaid statute (SEBC Act) passed unanimously by both the Houses of the state legislature of my state on November 30 after the 102nd Constitutional Amendment has been held unsustainable. In term of the aforesaid majority of the SC on and from August 15, 2018, the day on which the Constitutional Amendment has been brought into force, the President alone (i.e. the Central Government) under Article 342 (I) by reason of Article 367 read with section 3(8) (b) of General Clauses Act, has jurisdiction, authority and power to identify and declare Maratha community of my state to be a SEBC. Also, it is held that an appropriate exercise in this regard is to be conducted by the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC), in consultation with our state (sic),” stated the letter, dated May 10, to the President.

“As a consequence of the aforesaid majority view of the Supreme Court, it is the President i.e. the Union government alone, which can identify and notify the Maratha community of my state as SEBC, enabling it to enjoy reservation in education and public employment. This is therefore, to earnestly request you that appropriate steps be taken, albeit in accordance with law, declared by the SC to identify and declare Maratha community of my state as SEBC to enable them to claim reservation in education and public employment at least to extent of 12% and 13% respectively (sic),” it added.

Meanwhile, the state government on Tuesday also constituted an eight-member panel headed by Dilip Bhosale, retired chief justice of Allahabad HC, to examine the Apex court judgment in detail and prepare a comprehensive guidance and analysis till May 31 which will help the state in taking the next course of action. The panel comprises of senior law expert Rafique Dada, former advocate general of Maharashtra Darius Khambata, retired bureaucrat Sudhir Thakre, senior law advisor of law and judiciary department Sanjay Deshmukh, secretary (legislation) law and judiciary department Bhupendra Gurav, advocate Ashish Raje Gaikwad and joint secretary BZ Sayyad. The government has also appointed two more advocates — Akshay Shinde and Vaibhav Sugdare — who will assist the committee over the matter.

The demand for reservation in government jobs and education has been a long-standing demand of the Maratha community since the 1980s and there have several agitations for it. It culminated in SEBC Act, 2018, which introduced 16% reservation for the community. The law was challenged in Bombay HC, which brought down the reservation to 12% and 13% in education and jobs, respectively.

The CM made it clear that states should not be deprived with their authority and power to provide reservation to a particular community.

“The authority to grant reservation to a community shall remain with the states. The matter is not related to just one state [Maharashtra in this case] but involves many others. We are expecting deliberation and decision on the same,” said Thackeray.

He also praised the Maratha community for showing ‘self-restraint” and not holding any agitation against the Apex court verdict or the state government.

“We are expecting a reply on the letter and also a decision, as granting the reservation to the Maratha community was a unanimous move. Even BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) may not have any objection on this,” he said.

The CM also took a dig at his predecessor Devendra Fadnavis over the latter’s claim that SEBC Act was “fool proof”.

“Had it been true, we would have not come here to meet the Governor in this regard,” Thackeray said responding to a question.

Thackeray’s visit to Raj Bhavan comes after a year amid an ongoing a tussle between his Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government and the Governor. The last time the CM had called on Koshyari was after being elected as the member of the legislative Council on May 18, 2020. He was accompanied by his wife Rashmi and son Aaditya, who is also the state environment minister.

Meanwhile, many organisations are planning to hold state-wide virtual agitations by starting social media campaigns against leaders of the political parties in Maharashtra as a mark of protest and to create pressure for taking decisions to bring back reservation for the community.

Ex-Maharashtra CM Ashok Chavan to evaluate Congress’s poll debacle in 5 states

A day after the Congress Working Committee (CWC) decided to form a leaders’ group to evaluate the party’s debacle in the recently-concluded Assembly polls in five states, Maharashtra’s former chief minister (CM) Ashok Chavan has been appointed to lead it. Senior Congress leaders Salman Khurshid, Manish Tewari, Vincent H Pala and Jothi Mani are the other members of the group.

In the CWC meeting at New Delhi on Monday, party chief Sonia Gandhi had proposed to form a group to evaluate the party’s performance in Kerala, Assam, West Bengal, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu polls. Gandhi had said the party has to put its house in order by “facing reality and drawing lessons” from the setback it received in the polls.

“Honourable Congress president has constituted a group to evaluate the results of the recently-concluded Assembly elections with immediate effect. The group will submit the report within two weeks,” a press statement signed by party general secretary KC Venugopal read.

Chavan’s appointment is seen to be significant for the leader, known to be a party loyalist.

“I’m thankful to the party president for the responsibility. We’ll present the report on party’s performance in the elections by speaking to the candidates, officer bearers and key workers from the respective states,” Chavan, who is the state public works department minister, said.

Source: HindustanTimes

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