BJP descends on Thackeray government after SC ruling on Maratha quota
The opposition party and other Maratha groups in the state blamed the MVA government following the Supreme Court’s stay on reservation for the Marathas.
In a setback to the agitation for Maratha reservation, the Supreme Court said that there will be no quotas for them now in colleges and jobs. The matter has been referred to a larger bench. A number of petitions had been filed in the apex court against these reservations by the likes of Save Merit Save Nation and Youth for Equality who argued that this pushed the percentage of reserved positions in the state to greater than 50%, which is fixed as the ceiling for reservation quotas.
Maharashtra has passed a law in 2018 allowing for 16% reservations for Marathas in educational institutions and government jobs. When this was challenged in the Mumbai High Court, the law was upheld but the quota was reduced to 12-13%. But this was challenged again in the Supreme Court. Following the stay order, admissions to colleges under the Maratha quota have been stopped, except for postgraduate courses.
This news has kicked up a political storm in the state. Various Maratha community groups that have been agitating for several years for these reservations have termed the developments as disappointing and have blamed the Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition government for not representing their case well in the Supreme Court. They argue that in other states like Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan have reservations exceeding the 50% quota and the state government should have worked harder to consolidate the gains made previously.
BJP, the opposition party in the state, has pounced on this opportunity to flay the government and the coalition partners. Former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said the current government, headed by Uddhav Thackeray, has lost all the hard work done by his government which passed the law and got a green signal from the high court. He accused the state government of not being serious about the issue from the beginning. Lawyers would sometimes be absent from court and they wouldn’t file submissions on time, he said.
This has been contested by the state-appointed sub-committee which said the best lawyers were recruited to argue the case. All three coalition parties – the Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP – have supported the reservation issue. But BJP is bound to leverage this setback in order to make inroads into Maratha votebank and penetrate Congress and NCP strongholds in Marathwada and Western Maharashtra.