MUMBAI: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday assured that his government will take all necessary steps to provide reservation to the Dhangar community and will also pursue the matter with the Centre.
Leader of the Opposition in state Legislative Council Pravin Darekar said in the House that when Devendra Fadnavis was chief minister of the state, he always kept the House updated about the issue.
"Chief Minister Thackeray should also speak on the issue and ensure that the Dhangar (shepherd) community members will get what they deserve," Darekar said.
To this, Thackeray, who was present in the Upper House at that time, said, "My government will take all necessary steps to offer reservation to the Dhangar community. We will go to the Centre and pursue the matter with it."
Earlier, while replying to a question raised by Congress MLC Ramhari Rupnavar on reservation for the Dhangar community, state Tribal Development Minister K C Padvi said the demand is for offering reservation to Dhangars without touching the existing quotas for the tribal community.
"We are waiting for the advocate general's response over the matter. The Tata Institute of Social Sciences' report on the Dhangar community is already submitted to the state government," he said.
The minister also said he does not have any information on how much of Rs 500 crore, sanctioned by the previous BJP-led government for the Dhangar community's welfare, has been utilised so far.
Dhangars, who form nine per cent of the state's population, are currently included in the Vimukt Jati Nomadic Tribe (VJNT) category, but they have been demanding ST status.
Earlier, the Council witnessed ruckus over the issue of reservation for Dhangar community, prompting Chairman Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar to adjourn the House twice - initially for five minutes and then for 10 minutes.
While BJP legislators demanded a concrete answer from the tribal development minister over the issue, members of the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition countered them, asking what did the BJP do for the Dhangar (shepherd) community in the last five years.
Congress Leader of the House Sharad Ranpise and Social Justice Minister Dhananjay Munde (of NCP) asked why the BJP failed to offer reservation to the community in education and jobs.
BJP legislator Vinayak Mete said the MVA government has completed three months in office, hence it should inform the Upper House about what action has been taken in this time period on providing reservation to the community.
Padvi and state Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anil Parab assured the House that compounded cases against people demanding reservation will be withdrawn, but the criminal cases will be probed individually and necessary action will be taken.