Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde has called an all-party meeting on September 11 to break the deadlock over the Maratha reservation issue.
Speaking in Pune, Deputy CM and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar said that the meeting would be held at ‘Sahyadri’ State Guest House, where representatives of all parties had been invited.
Mr. Pawar said while several meetings had already been held on the issue and talks held with a number of delegations on behalf of quota protestors, activist Manoj Jarange Patil — who has emerged as a prominent face of the protests — had yet to be convinced.
Courts rejected quotas
“It is not as if our government, or the earlier ones, have not tried hard to ensure reservation for the Marathas. When the Congress-NCP government was in power in the State, it passed a proposal to reserve 16% of government jobs and seats in educational institutions for Marathas. Unfortunately, our decision did not stick in the High Court. Next, the Devendra Fadnavis-led government managed to get a Maratha quota bill passed in both houses of the Legislature. While it passed muster in the Bombay High Court, the Supreme Court unfortunately scrapped it. So, it is not as if efforts have not been made,” Mr. Pawar said.
Mr. Jarange Patil has been on an indefinite hunger strike for the past 13 days and is adamant on continuinguntil the State government issued Kunbi caste (an OBC community) certificates for all Marathas so as to ensure that the Maratha community could avail reservations benefits that OBCs enjoyed.
He has also demanded that the police personnel who lathi-charged fasting activists and villagers in Jalna district be terminated from government service rather than merely sending them on compulsory leave.
On September 8, a delegation of Mr. Jarange Patil’s representatives, along with local political leaders had met CM Shinde and his cabinet colleagues in Mumbai to place the activist’s demands before them.