Chhatrapati Sambhajiraje appealed to the Maratha community to show restraint and not take to the streets in the wake of the deadly second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic

The refrain among Maratha community leaders was one of overwhelming disappointment and ire against the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government after the Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down the quota for Maratha community in education and jobs exceeding 50%.

BJP Rajya Sabha MP Chhatrapati Sambhajiraje, a direct descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji and an influential community leader, said that the State government was now left with only one option which was to immediately announce a supernumerary quota for the community.

“While this is an extremely disappointing moment for us, I would not like to point fingers at any particular government, past or present. The erstwhile Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP government had tried hard and had passed the Maratha quota law in the State Legislature. The present Thackeray government, too, tried its best, but regrettably failed to convince the Apex court. I feel that the supernumerary quota method is the only alternative left,” he said.

At the same time, Chhatrapati Sambhajiraje appealed to the Maratha community to show restraint and not take to the streets in the wake of the deadly second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

BJP State president Chandrakant Patil, on the other hand, squarely blamed the Thackeray government for failing to present the case properly in front of the Supreme Court

“There is no coordination in this tripartite MVA government, be it management of the pandemic or the Maratha quota issue…there was no thorough study on part of their ministers or lawyers on the issue. Today, as a result of this government’s ham-fisted attitude on the issue, the Supreme Court has scrapped the quota law that the Fadnavis government had worked so hard to get passed in the State Legislature. There is darkness in the future of Maratha youth as a result of this MVA government,” said Mr. Patil, an MLA from Pune’s Kothrud area.

The court made it clear in its judgement that people from the Maratha community cannot be declared as educationally and socially backward community to bring them within the reserved category.

Shiv Sangram chief Vinayak Mete railed against Maharashtra minister and senior Congress leader Ashok Chavan, who headed the cabinet sub-committee on the Maratha reservation issue.

“Ashok Chavan should resign immediately. He has proven utterly ineffectual in handling this critical issue…the Marathas will not remain silent, they will take to the streets,” Mr. Mete warned.

Likewise, Maratha Kranti Morcha leader Dilip Patil demanded the resignations of both Mr. Thackeray and Mr. Chavan, while remarking that choosing the latter to head the cabinet sub-committee on the Maratha quota issue was a “big mistake”.

“The State government has failed on its strategy to ensure that the quota law stuck in the Supreme Court. On what basis has the SC rejected the inclusion of the community in the socially backward category when 35-40% of the community’s members are economically underprivileged. We are awaiting the detailed court order and will then plan our future course of action,” Mr. Patil said.

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