Walking Maratha quota tightrope, Maharashtra govt reaches out to OBCs
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has announced that Rs 500 crore will be given to the OBC Corporation in the next two budgets to provide employment opportunities to youths from the OBC community
Mumbai: The BJP-led Maharashtra government today announced various measures for the OBCs who are apparently nervous over the likely inclusion of the Marathas in the OBC category for reservation in jobs.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has announced that Rs 500 crore will be given to the OBC Corporation in the next two budgets to provide employment opportunities to youths from the OBC community.
He made the announcement at the third national convention of the Rashtriya OBC Mahasangh held in Mumbai.
He said the government has sent a recommendation to the Central government for honouring Mahatma Jyotiba Phule and his wife Savitribai Phule---the social reformers of the 19th Century--with Bharat Ratna, the country's highest civilian award.
The announcement came against the backdrop of reports that the Other Backward Classes are against the attempts to include the Marathas in the OBC category for quota benefits.
"An amount of Rs 500 crore will be given to the OBC Corporation in the next two budgets to provide employment opportunities and assist our youths from the community," Fadnavis said.
He also said the government would construct hostels for OBC students in 19 districts, and funds will be made available.
"In no way, the seats meant for the OBCs would be given to any other individual (from non-OBC category). The seats meant for the OBCs will go to OBCs only. We are committed to provide employment to OBCs as per the quota given in the reservation," said Fadnavis.
He said the state government has set up a separate Ministry for OBCs.
"I am also happy that after 70 years of struggle, our Parliament yesterday passed a bill to provide Constitutional status to the National Backward Classes Commission," Fadnavis said.
The OBCs had reportedly demanded that their quota be raised from the current 19 per cent considering that they make up 52 per cent of the state's population.
Fadnavis also announced that his government would assess the extent of representation given to the OBCs in jobs till date and take steps to address the backlog, if any, in a time-bound manner.
In Maharashtra, the OBCs enjoy 17 per cent quota at present.
Fadnavis suggested that there was no exact information available regarding the actual representation of the OBCs in jobs till now, and said the state government would come out with relevant details.
"If the representation is below the percentage of quota alloted, then the backlog would be cleared in a time-bound manner," the chief minister said.
The politically-influential Maratha community, constituting around 30 per cent of Maharashtra's population, has been agitating to press their demand for reservation in jobs and education under the OBC category.
At present, the quota for various castes and communities in Maharashtra is capped at 52 per cent, with Scheduled Castes (13%), Scheduled Tribes (7%), OBCs (19%); Nomadic, Denotified Tribes and Special Backward Category together at 13%.
The OBCs had reportedly sought a comprehensive socio-economic and caste census in Maharashtra to determine the population of each community.
Speaking on the occasion, Maharashtra Congress president Ashok Chavan appealed to Fadnavis to take yearly follow-up on implementation of the announcements made by him.
"I would also request the organisers of the (OBC) convention to review whether the announcements made from this platform are implemented or not...the government should accept the demands made by the communities and not ignore them," Chavan demanded.
The former chief minister said various governments in the past had announced awarding reservations in the past (to different communities), but wondered about actual implementation of the promises.
Chavan said many people have been expressing concerns that the current situation may lead to a conflict among various communities, and pitched for communal harmony.