MUMBAI: Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis today accused "certain leaders" of trying to create caste division in Maharashtra, even as he said that the Maratha community, that has been protesting for reservation, should come forward for talks with the government instead of resorting to agitation and violence.
He said his government was committed to provide reservation to the community, but pointed out that the issue was pending before the Bombay High Court.
In a statement issued here, Fadnavis said that after peaceful silent marches taken out by Maratha agitators two years ago, his government took several decisions for the welfare of the community.
Maratha organisations had called for a shutdown in Mumbai and surrounding areas today, which led to violence in some places.
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Fadnavis said his government was committed to grant reservations in jobs and education to the Marathas, and pointed out the government passed a law in this regard, but it was struck down by the high court.
The state appealed against the high court decision in the apex court but could not get a stay, he said.
"Hence, the case is pending in the high court. A state OBC commission has been set up and a proposal is being prepared as per the law. We are doing sincerely whatever is in our power," he said.
He said if there was any loophole in the implementation of the schemes, it can be sorted out through talks.
"There is also a need to resolve confusion in the community about the mega-recruitment drive in government service. Instead of resorting to violence and protests, the community should come forward for talks with the government," Fadnavis appealed.
"Certain political leaders" are trying to create caste divisions to derive political mileage, he alleged.
Highlighting the decisions taken for the community, Fadnavis said under the Rajshri Shahu Maharaj scheme, the government is paying 50 per cent of fees of students, whose family income is below Rs 8 lakh.
About two lakh students have benefited from the scheme so far, he said.
"Hostels for Maratha students are being constructed in every district. Through the Annasaheb Patil Economic Development Corporation, Maratha youth are encouraged to become entrepreneurs. A cabinet sub-committee has been set up to ensure smooth implementation of these schemes," the Chief Minister said.
He also expressed sorrow over the suicide by a youth and attempts to commit suicide by others during the agitation in the last few days.