MUMBAI: Maharashtra Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil today alleged that "certain leaders" were trying to provoke the Maratha community -- which has been demanding reservations in jobs and education -- as the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections are nearing.
Patil, who heads a cabinet sub-committee looking into the politically dominant community's demands, said a group of Maratha leaders tore up copies of government resolutions (GRs) regarding decisions for the welfare of the community after a press conference at the Y B Chavan Pratishthan auditorium last week.
"We have intelligence reports on certain leaders who are funding these press conferences. These leaders, who want to create unrest in the community in an election year, have been identified. We request these leaders to stop such activities," the minister said.
The BJP-led government was ready to accept positive suggestions, he said, calling upon the Maratha KrantiMorcha, which spearheaded the agitation for reservations, to help ensure effective implementation of ll the decisions taken for the Maratha community's welfare so far.
The issue of reservations for Marathas was being heard by the court (where the government ordinance on quota has been challenged), he said, adding "we will fight the case to secure reservations, and till then we have introduced other policies for the welfare of the Maratha community."
Despite all these measures, attempts were being made to provoke the community ahead of elections, Patil alleged.
"These leaders who are provoking the community, they should stop doing so. The government has identified them and is watching them," he said.
The family income limit for availing concessions granted to students from the economically backward class (EBC) was increased from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 6 lakh for several professional courses, the minister said.
The income limit was raised further to Rs 8 lakh, he pointed out. "The government paid the fees of1.17 lakh students. Colleges have been asked to admit (EBC) students whose family income is less than Rs 8 lakh by charging only half the fees. The government will pay the remaining amount," he said.
The students whose family income is less than Rs 1 lakh will get Rs 30,000 per year for hostel fees, while those in the Rs 8 lakh income bracket will get Rs 10,000, he said.