MUMBAI: The Maratha quota issue is all set to heat up Maharashtra politics again as the community launched a state-wide agitation demanding reservation under the leadership of BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati.
A silent sit-in protest was held at Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj memorial in Kolhapur on Wednesday that saw participation from MLAs and political leaders cutting across party lines. The state government, however, invited Sambhajiraje for a discussion with CM Uddhav Thackeray. Sambhajiraje, a direct descendant of warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, welcomed the invite and said he and other leaders of the agitation may meet Thackeray in Mumbai on Friday.
Among the participants in the dharna were Kolhapur guardian minister and Congress leader Satej Patil, Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi leader Prakash Ambedkar, state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil and Shiv Sena MP from Kolhapur district Dhairyashil Mane.
The Supreme Court had earlier termed the Maratha quota announced by the state government as “unconstitutional”. However, Deputy CM Ajit Pawar said Sambhajiraje was advised to discuss the quota issue with Thackeray instead of launching the agitation. Earlier this month, Thackeray had met PM Narendra Modi to discuss the matter.
Meanwhile, Thackeray has ignored ally Congress’s demand by not implementing the reservation policy in promotions. This latest snub is likely to further strain the ties between the Congress and Shiv Sena. The CM cleared the promotions of 31 deputy secretaries without following the reservation policy. Out of 31 officers, 20 were from the general category.
Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole and other senior party leaders had met the CM to press for their demand. “Our party president Sonia Gandhi had also earlier written to Thackeray reminding him about the coalition dharma and asked to respect the common minimum agenda. Not implementing reservation in promotion policy means we are neglecting the rights of the reserved class,” a Congress leader said.