'No Maharashtra BJP MP spoke about Maratha quota in LS'

No BJP MP from Maha said a word on Maratha quota in Lok Sabha: Chavan

Chavan heads a state cabinet sub-committee on Maratha reservation

Maharashtra minister Ashok Chavan. Credit: DH File Photo

Maharashtra minister Ashok Chavan on Tuesday said it is unfortunate that no BJP Member of Parliament from the state spoke about the Maratha reservation issue when the Lok Sabha debated a constitutional amendment bill to restore the powers of states to make their own OBC lists.

Speaking to reporters, Chavan, who heads a state cabinet sub-committee on Maratha reservation, said an opportunity to relax the 50 per cent cap on reservation in education and government jobs has been missed by the Centre. The Congress minister's comments came after the Lok Sabha passed the 'The Constitution (127th Amendment) Bill, 2021', that seeks to restore the power of states and Union Territories to make their own OBC lists, with the NDA government getting the support of opposition parties for the legislation.

He said, “Parliament has been at a standstill on Pegasus or 'black' agri laws, but every political party in the opposition cooperated with the Centre and discussed the bill." The former chief minister said the Centre should have also taken steps to remove the 50 per cent cap on reservations. “Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Virendra Kumar had said the government will consider relaxation on reservation cap at right time. It was the right time to take this decision. How long the Maratha community will continue its legal battle for quota?" Chavan asked.

“The Union government could have made the Maratha community's legal battle for reservation easier. Directives were given to Congress members in the Lok Sabha by our leader Sonia Gandhi (for seeking relaxation in quota cap). Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury is from West Bengal, but he still stood firm on this issue,” he said. During the debate on the OBC bill, several opposition parties, including the Congress, demanded removal of the 50 per cent cap on reservations, while the central government underlined its commitment to social justice.

“Shiv Sena MPs such as Vinayak Raut, Prataprao Jadhav, NCP MP Supriya Sule and Balu Dhanorkar of the Congress strongly pitched for Maratha reservation. However, not a single MP of the BJP from Maharashtra uttered a word over the issue...this is truly unfortunate,” Chavan said. The 102nd Constitution Amendment Act of 2018 inserted articles 338B, which deals with the structure, duties and powers of the National Commission for Backward Classes, and 342A that deals with the powers of the president to notify a particular caste as an SEBC and the power of Parliament to change the list. Article 366 (26C) defines SEBCs.

The Supreme Court had dismissed the Centre's plea seeking a review of its May 5 majority verdict that held that the 102nd Constitution amendment took away the states' power to notify SEBCs for the grant of quota in jobs and admissions. In May, the Supreme Court struck down the 2018 Maharashtra law granting quota to Marathas in admissions and government jobs, terming it as "unconstitutional", and held there were no exceptional circumstances to breach the 50 per cent reservation cap set by the 1992 Mandal verdict.