The contentious subject of Maratha reservation returned to the State Legislature on Monday with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLC Vinayak Mete demanding a 25 per cent quota for the community.
A furore was caused in the Legislative Council as opinions swiftly got polarised on the issue which is a political hot potato.
Mr. Mete, a Maratha leader, argued that unemployment stalked youths from the Maratha community which accounted for 35 to 45 per cent of the State population. “We are not opposed to reservations for other communities, nor do we want to encroach upon anyone's quota,” he said.
MLC Bhai Jagtap joined the demand contending that the other States, like Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh had much higher percentages of reservations.
On the other hand, MLC Kapil Patil argued that the Constitution did not lay down economic criteria as a basis for reservations.
As emotions ran high, MLC Ram Pandagle quit the House in a huff, alleging that he was not allowed to speak on the issue as he was a Dalit.
In her reply, Foujiya Khan, Minister of State (School Education and Minorities Development), said it was important to study all aspects of the issue and form a comprehensive view, also taking into consideration similar demands from other communities.
Ms. Khan said the Bapat Commission report on Maratha reservation had been referred back to the Shroff Commission for a review.
“We would need to study if any kind of injustice is likely to be done to any community [in the process]. The State is providing facilities to the economically backward classes. Now you have the Right to Education Act. Many matters pertaining to reservations are pending before the Supreme Court, which has not given a clear decision [yet],” she said.