The Maharashtra government lauded the Supreme Court's decision to consider a curative petition concerning the Maratha reservation on 24 January, describing it as significant progress. They also appealed to Manoj Jarange-Patil to call off a protest rally planned in Mumbai from 24 January.
On Sunday, in Mumbai, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis informed the press that the state government is earnestly and proactively working on resolving the Maratha reservation issue. He highlighted that they have taken definitive steps to find a permanent solution to the problem. In particular, he noted that Chief Minister Eknath Shinde is meticulously overseeing the progress.
Fadnavis announced that the Supreme Court has accepted the curative petition and scheduled the hearing for 24 January. He added that the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission (MSBCC) is diligently working to provide concrete data and confirm the disadvantaged status of the Maratha community.
The Sandeep Committee is currently preparing its third report, analysing data from the Nizam era. Two reports have already been submitted by the committee, he further added.
Fadnavis stated that the chief minister has already established a schedule for the implementation of Maratha reservation, with plans to call a special state legislative session in February. He further added that all efforts are being carried out promptly and efficiently.
Fadnavis, also serving as the home minister, conveyed his assurance that there would be no discord between the government and Maratha groups regarding reservation.
"We are optimistic that the Maratha activists, led by Manoj Jarange-Patil, will reconsider their planned protest on 24 January given the government's multifaceted efforts," he expressed as reported by Indian Express.
The government also intends to guarantee that its initiatives are accurately communicated to the Maratha organisations and their leaders.
"From the start, it's important to understand that the government has always been dedicated to enforcing Maratha reservation. Consequently, there should be no cause for disagreement. The present hurdle is to make certain that the reservation can stand up to legal and constitutional examination. The submission of the curative petition in the Supreme Court represents progress," he stated.
In October 2023, the state government lodged a curative petition. Shinde expressed immense relief over the curative hearing in the supreme court, stating, "To represent our position, the state government has enlisted the expertise and counsel of distinguished attorneys like Harish Salve, Mukul Rohatgi, Tushar Mehta, and others."
Jarange-Patil had issued a 24 December deadline to the state government for the implementation of Maratha reservation. However, the chief minister asked for an extension until February 2024, leaving Maratha organisations somewhat undecided. While some Maratha leaders privately consider offering the government the requested time, Jarange-Patil is eager to escalate the protest.
Jarange-Patil announced on Saturday that a massive rally is scheduled to take place in Mumbai on 24 January, with the expected attendance of 3 lakh Marathas. He implied that there are no plans to call off the protest.
A high-ranking coordinator from the Maratha Kranti Morcha in Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar, who wished to remain unidentified, stated, "Our support is pledged to Jarange-Patil, but we intend to avoid any potential conflict with the government. Ultimately, securing reservation for the Marathas is our primary concern."
Certain members of MKM believe it would be best to hold off until February 2024. "We mustn't disregard the pleas for patience and collaboration from the Chief Minister (Eknath Shinde), who has been consistently advocating for the same," he further stated.
Chandrakant Patil, a Senior BJP minister and member of the cabinet subcommittee on Maratha reservation, expressed that the recent developments in the Supreme Court are encouraging. He highlighted that the state government's curative petition is set for a hearing on 24 January, which will give them a chance to justify the necessity of the Maratha reservation.
In response to the Maratha demonstrations, the governing BJP is portraying the Supreme Court's agreement to consider the curative petition as a significant development.
Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.
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