PUNE: The Maharashtra government is making “all possible efforts” to grant reservation to Marathas, which was struck down by the Supreme Court, without disturbing the existing quotas of other communities, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said on Sunday.
Pawar’s comments came two days after a committee headed by high court judge justice Dilip Bhosale (retired) recommended in its report that the Maharashtra government file a review petition against the apex court’s decision.
Pawar was speaking to reporters at the Pune Zilla Parishad office on the sidelines of “Shiv Swarajya Din” to mark the anniversary of the coronation of Shivaji Maharaj as “Chhatrapati” in 1674.
The Maharashtra government has decided to celebrate the coronation day as “Shiv Swarajya Din” by installing ‘gudis’- a colourful silk scarf-like cloth tied at the top of a long bamboo- atop the offices of local bodies, schools, colleges, and houses in the state.
“We, under the leadership of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, are making all possible efforts to grant reservation to the Maratha community which was struck down by the Supreme Court,” Pawar said.
He said the apex court had raised questions about the MC Gaikwad Commission’s report, which was the basis for the Maratha quota, but some people are still trying to incite the feelings of people.
Pawar was replying to a question about former MLC Narendra Patil’s statement that a “true Maratha” like him will not remain silent, and if needed, he will strap a bomb to his body and detonate it for the quota cause.
The Supreme Court had last month struck down the Maharashtra law granting quota to Marathas in admissions and government jobs, terming it “unconstitutional”, and held there were no exceptional circumstances to breach the 50 per cent reservation cap set by the 1992 Mandal verdict.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan concurred on three major issues, framed during the hearing, and said the MC Gaikwad commission report which was the basis for the Maratha quota did not highlight any exceptional circumstances for grant of reservation to Marathas.
“On this occasion, I would like to assure the people, especially those from the Maratha community, that the MVA government is making efforts to ensure that Marathas get reservation without disturbing quotas of other communities,” said Pawar.
He said a delegation led by Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray met Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on the Maratha quota issue.
When asked about senior BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis’ statement that forming a government with Ajit Pawar was a mistake, the senior NCP leader said, “14 months have passed after that episode and we are now moving ahead”.
Former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Friday described his teaming up with Ajit Pawar to form a short-lived 80-hour government in the state in 2019 as a mistake, adding he does not regret it.
On November 23, 2019, amid hectic parleys between the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress to form a non-BJP government in the state after the polls threw up a hung Assembly, Fadnavis and Pawar were sworn in at dawn in a ceremony at Raj Bhavan.
Queried about Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut’s statement that if his party strikes an alliance with the NCP for the Pune civic polls, the Sena will contest at least 80 (out of total 162) seats, Pawar said everybody expresses his opinion to expand the base of the party he belongs to.
Meanwhile, Pawar said it was his personal view that there should be a two-member ward system for civic polls.
“There will be a ‘one member-one ward’ system in Mumbai (for 2022 civic polls). However, for other civic bodies, members of the Maha Vikas Aghadi will hold discussions. My personal view is that there should be a two- member ward,” he said.
The NCP leader said a decision on the ward system will be taken after consulting the alliance partners- the Shiv Sena and the Congress.