Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday said his government was committed to granting reservation to the Maratha community, but in a way that stands legal scrutiny.
The assurance came when he met 22 prominent personalities from the community in Mumbai to discuss the issue, after which a joint appeal was issued for exercising restraint and maintaining peace.
Noted actors Sayaji Shinde and Amol Kolhe, well-known art director Nitin Desai, Shirdi temple trust chairman Suresh Haware and water conservation activist Popatrao Pawar were among the prominent personalities who attended the meeting.
The Maratha community, which constitutes around 30 percent of the state’s 12 crore population, have been agitating for reservation in jobs and education.
Over the last two weeks, the agitation has turned violent at a number of places and at least 6 pro-quota people have committed suicide.
Fadnavis held deliberations with artists, writers, intellectuals from the community for nearly three hours to discuss the quota stir.
“Various short-term and long-term measures to provide relief to the community were discussed,” he said after the meeting.
He said his government was committed to granting reservation which stands legal scrutiny. “An appeal has been made to prevent violence during agitation,” Fadnavis said.
A joint statement issued after the meeting said the demand of the Marathas for quota was justified.
In the appeal, the pro-quota protesters were urged not to indulge in violence or take the extreme step of suicide.
The statement also said that immediate steps should be taken to give reservation to the community at the earliest which will stand legal scrutiny.
Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil, Education Minister Vinod Tawde and other ministers were present along with Fadnavis.
Kolhe, known for his portrayal of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj earlier and currently as Sambhaji in TV shows, told news agency PTI that the meeting was positive.
“I could feel the chief minister’s genuine concern over the violent turn that the quota stir took and his positive approach towards welfare of the community,” he said.
The actor said Fadnavis apprised the meeting about the steps being taken by his government for the Maratha community.
“We made a joint appeal to the protesters to be positive and ensure that the agitation doesn’t take a violent turn. People should refrain from taking the extreme step like suicide,” he said.
Kolhe said those present at the meeting sought long-term and concrete efforts to improve the quality of life of Marathas.
Meanwhile, leaders of most non-Maratha groups have said that they would support the demand for reservation provided that existing quotas are not changed in any way, something that is not possible without amending the constitution and incurring an immense backlash from other minority communities.
At present, Maharashtra has 52 percent quota and so far the CM has refrained from addressing whether the state will grant quota to Marathas by adding to the existing allocation or by reducing the quota given to other communities.
With agency inputsBack to latest news