Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra assembly Vijay Wadettiwar on Tuesday said a separate quota can be created for Marathas and maintained that he is against sharing the existing reservation for Other Backward Classes with the Maratha community.
Speaking to reporters in Nagpur, Wadettiwar said he was not opposed to the idea of increasing the overall quota ceiling to accommodate the Maratha community.
He also accused the state government of being selective in acting against police officers in Jalna in the wake of a lathi-charge by the police last week on protesters seeking Maratha quota.
"A separate quota for the Maratha community can be created. However, I am against sharing the existing reservation for OBCs with the Maratha community,” the Congress leader said.
The Maharashtra government can increase the overall quota limit to address the demand of the Maratha community for reservation in education and jobs, he said.
"Instead of wasting time in procedures to issue certificates of Kunbi caste to the Maratha community, the Maharashtra government should increase the quota limit and accommodate the Maratha community in it,” he said.
On deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis's claim that the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi government did not take any steps to provide reservation to the Maratha community, Wadettiwar said, “Fadnavis and BJP state president Chandrashekhar Bawankule are taking a contradictory stance on (the issue of) Maratha reservation. It is a clear attempt of eyewash and misleading people.”
CM Eknath Shinde on Monday said a committee will submit its report within a month on how to issue Kunbi caste certificates to Marathas from Marathwada region.
To this, Wadettiwar said, “Forget about 30 days, even if the state government takes 30 months, such kind of reservation cannot be given. The state government is trying to cover up the unrest among people after the police used force against the Maratha quota protesters in Jalna last week.”
He said the Union government can create a separate quota for Marathas on the lines of the Economically Weaker Section.
"It is the Union government's right to issue a notification or publish it in gazette for the same. If the Union government takes such a decision in the upcoming Parliament session, the whole issue of Maratha quota can be solved by the end of September,” he said.
Last Friday, police baton charged and lobbed tear gas shells to disperse a violent mob in Antarwali Sarathi village in Jalna district after protesters allegedly refused to let authorities shift a man on hunger strike for Maratha quota to hospital.
Several persons, including 40 police personnel, were injured and more than 15 state transport buses were set ablaze in violence.
Reservation in jobs and education provided by the Maharashtra government to the Maratha community in 2018 when Fadnavis was chief minister was quashed by the Supreme Court in May 2021, citing the 50 per cent ceiling on total reservations among other grounds.
Wadettiwar alleged while the Jalna superintendent of police Tushar Doshi was sent on compulsory leave in the wake of the police action on protesters, the Additional SP, who belongs to an OBC community, was suspended.
"I don't want to go into the caste issue. On whose orders this action was taken? The home minister (Fadnavis) says the local superintendent of police has the power to take action (to maintain law and order). In that case, the Additional SP has been suspended and the SP is allowed to go free. People should get answers," he said.
On deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar's statement daring the opposition to prove that the order for lathi-charge was given from Mumbai, Wadettiwar said, "Conduct narco test of these people to understand who gave the orders to Jalna superintendent of police".