Justice (retd) Kolse-Patil says Maharashtra government needs to step forward, discuss issues.

As the agitation by the Maratha community rages on in the state, B G Kolse-Patil, a retired Bombay High Court judge and a prominent member of the community, said if the state government had the political will, it could get a law passed in Parliament on according OBC status to Marathas.

“Currently, the government is showing neither the willpower nor the intention to resolve the issues raised by the Maratha community,” he said. The delay in the government’s decision-making process will only add further fuel to the current agitation, Kolse-Patil told The Indian Express.

He said the anger on the streets “reflected the raw deal the community has got by those in power”. “… They are not ready to accept the continuous apathy shown by the government,” he said.

As the Maratha community was seeking OBC status, Kolse-Patil said the government could “pass a law putting the Maratha community in the OBC category”.

On the options before the Devendra Fadnavis-led government, Kolse-Patil said the BJP was in power at both the Centre and the state. “The Chief Minister can communicate the urgency about passing the law to the government of his own party at the Centre. There is no reason why it can’t be passed in this session of Parliament as the BJP has the majority required to pass the law,” he said. Kolse-Patil said he was confident there would no opposition to the law in Parliament.

The opposition from those who were already in the OBC category, he said, could be “resolved by increasing the percentage of quota. There is a precedence for this. Tamil Nadu has shown the way. In Maharashtra, the reservation already stands at 52 per cent, which is beyond the 50 per cent stipulated by the Supreme Court,” he said.

Citing the instance of 69 per cent reservation in Tamil Nadu, Kolse-Patil sought to know why a similar step couldn’t be taken in Maharashtra. “The quota for Marathas can be decided without disturbing the quotas of others,” he said.

The retired jurist said while the Maratha community comprised 33 per cent of the population, only one to two per cent of its members were part of the creamy layer “Over 30 per cent of Marathas are economically backward, including farmers who live in absolute terrible conditions. Those who are in the cooperative sector are in sound financial condition, but their numbers are few and far between,” he said.

Lack of communication between the government and the protesters was one of the main reasons for the current crisis, he said. The government needed to step forward and discuss the issues raised by the protesters, said Kolse-Patil.

“But what are the Chief Minister and his ministers doing…they seem to be trying to defame the Maratha community. The CM said he has information snakes will be released among warkaris to create panic in Pandharpur. Another minister said ‘paid elements’ are part of the agitation. Instead of discussing the issue across the table, the government seems to be working overtime to defame the community. This should stop,” said Kolse-Patil, adding that a delay will “make things spin out of control”

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