MUMBAI: The Maratha Kranti Morcha that almost brought Mumbai to a standstill on Wednesday ended in the evening with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis making several announcements benefiting students from the community.
At Azad Maidan, the members of the community had gathered in large numbers — around 3 lakh, according to police sources — seeking quota in jobs and education for the community.
After meeting the delegation from the Maratha rally, Fadnavis addressed the legislative assembly where he announced that 605 courses would now be covered under the state government’s scholarship scheme for students from the Maratha community, instead of the earlier 35.
Also, the precondition of 60 per cent marks for eligibility to get the scholarships has been done away with. This would enable students from the Maratha community to avail of concessions just like students from other backward communities, Fadnavis said.
“A sub-committee of the state cabinet would be formed which will review the implementation of various schemes announced for the Maratha community at regular intervals and hold talks with leaders of the community from time to time,” Fadnavis told the assembly.
The government has allocated Rs 5 crore each to build hostels for students from the community in all the districts, the CM said. Under the schemes of Annasaheb Patil Economic Development Corporation, a massive programme for skill development of 3 lakh youth from the community is being undertaken wherein an individual would be able to avail of a loan of up to Rs 10 lakh and the government will pay the interest. The Kopardi rape case is in its last stage and hearing on sentencing will begin once the re-examination of a witness was done, Fadnavis said.
However, Fadnavis didn’t mention steps being taken on two crucial demands raised by the community — amendments in the SC/ST Atrocities Act and implementation of the Swaminathan panel recommendations.
Following the assurances, the BJP appeared to have successfully alienated the Maratha community from other political parties.
Opposition leaders Ajit Pawar and Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil accused Fadnavis of repeating old assurances. The opposition members then staged a walkout in protest from the assembly. The scene in the legislative council was not much different.
However, former chief minister Narayan Rane praised Fadnavis and said that he must now concentrate on implementation in a time-bound manner.
“Many of the schemes announced by Fadnavis are related to education and employment opportunities. This is more important than just caressing the old emotive issues,” said RS MP Chhatrapati Sambhaji Raje.