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Maratha quota: Royals Sambhajiraje and Udayanraje close ranks

BJP MPs Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati (L) and Udayanraje Bhosale (R) arrive to discuss Maratha reservation in Pune on Monday.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Influential Maratha community leaders and fellow royals, Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati and Udayanaraje Bhosale, both direct descendants of Chhatrapati Shivaji, closed ranks over the Maratha reservation issue at a rare meeting in Pune on Monday.

Both leaders, who are BJP MPs, warned the ruling Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) leadership in Maharashtra of the simmering resentment among the Maratha youth, while adding that they would not be in a position to restrain the restive community in the event of “violent protests”.

“Since the Supreme Court had scrapped the reservation last month by citing that the Maratha community did not fall in the ‘backward category’, there are only two ways forward: file a review petition and then a curative petition. But since the process of forming a committee again, which will submit its recommendations to the Governor who will refer the matter to the President and so on, is long and cumbersome, the State government must immediately try and extend Other Backward Class [OBC] benefits to the poorer sections of the Maratha community. The government can consider using supernumerary methods of providing jobs to the youth,” Mr. Chhatrapati, a scion of the royal household’s branch in Kolhapur, said.

While relations between both royals was believed to be frigid at best, the presentation of a united front over the boiling Maratha reservation issue was meant to send a strong signal to the community members, said observers.

While both royals exhorted every MLA and MP in Maharashtra to clarify their stance on the issue, Mr. Bhosale, the descendant from the Satara branch, said the onus of resolving the issue was with the State government rather than with the Centre.

“It is important for all the leaders in the State to make their stand clear now. I fully support Sambhajiraje’s efforts in his forthcoming agitation… There is unquestionably a social divide being created on the Maratha reservation matter by politicians. Even our friends, who may be of a different caste, keep their distance from us while talking… The State’s leadership will be responsible if the matter spirals out of control and that if that happens, as I think it will in the near future, then neither myself nor Sambhajiraje will be able to restrain the Maratha community,” Mr. Bhosale said.

Criticising both the State and Central leadership for not practising issue-based politics, Mr. Bhosale urged the State government to call a special session of the Assembly to debate the issue.

“I have no faith in court outcomes. I am of the firm opinion that no one in the Supreme Court had properly read the report of the Gaikwad Commission before scrapping the Maratha quota law. Unfortunately, the ‘people’s rulers’ [elected representatives] today lack the willpower to give reservation to the Maratha community,” said Mr. Bhosale, urging the community to question every elected representative in Maharashtra of what they had done to push the quota issue.

Remarking that Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar had written the Indian Constitution more than 70 years ago when the political situation was completely different, the Satara royal called for a constitutional amendment, if necessary, to grant quota for the Marathas.

Earlier this month, Mr. Chhatrapati had signalled the intensification of the quota agitation by announcing that the first Maratha morcha (rally) would commence from Kolhapur district on June 16.

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Printable version | Aug 3, 2021 10:08:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/maratha-quota-royals-sambhajiraje-and-udayanraje-close-ranks/article34816974.ece

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