"Backdoor Entry...": Minister Chaggan Bhujbal Slams Shinde Government In Maratha Quota Row

Chaggan Bhujbal isn't the only Maharashtra leader to have spoken out against the state government on this topic; Union Minister Narayan Rane called the decision an "encroachment on the rights of OBCs".


The Maharashtra government is facing criticism from within after its decision last week to allow reservation for the Maratha community under the OBC, or Other Backward Classes, category.

Chaggan Bhujbal, a lawmaker from the Ajit Pawar-led faction of the NCP and, crucially, seen as the faction's OBC face, told NDTV he was opposed to the "backdoor entry" to the OBC list, and that he will "raise the voice of the OBCs..."

"The Supreme Court had cancelled quota for Marathas because state-run educational institutions, sugar mills, and over 60 per cent of MLAs (and) many Chief Ministers... they are from the Maratha community. So then how can they be backward..." 

"We oppose the draft the Maharashtra government submitted to Manoj Jarage (the quota protests leader)... we will now approach the court," the NCP (Ajit Pawar faction) leader told NDTV.

In 2021 a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court cancelled reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for the Maratha community, saying it exceeded a 50 per cent cap. And last year the court junked a petition seeking that verdict to be re-examined. The court declared itself "satisfied that there is no apparent error on the face of the record..."

Meanwhile, Mr Bhujbal, the Food and Civil Supplies Minister, has called for protests outside the homes of Maharashtra MLAs and MPs, and a state-wide agitation two days later. He also said he is ready to leave the Ajit Pawar-led NCP faction.

"It was on issue of Mandal Commission that I left Shiv Sena... at the time it was not so easy to leave (but) now the same time has come again," he told NDTV, adding, "If I was afraid of (losing) the post of minister... I would not have openly spoken against the government. I will continue to fight for the OBCs... whether I remain a minister or not."

On X (formerly Twitter), he posted: "My request to all OBC brothers and sisters... for the future of our children, it is time for all 374 castes to show their strength. On February 1, 2024, go to the MLA, MP or Tehsildar of your respective areas, and hand over demands regarding OBC reservation protection. Everyone should come out in lakhs and raise this demand..."

Mr Bhujbal has also hit out at Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and his deputy, Devendra Fadnavis.

Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister are saying, 'there will be no harm to the reservation of OBCs'. But CM had said Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj had given reservation to Maratha society..."

"So has Chief Minister fulfilled his promise by seeing this backdoor entry?" he asked sarcastically.

Mano Jarange Patil, the quota protests leader who had been on a hunger strike for over 24 hours, stood down Saturday after the Maharashtra government accepted all his demands. These demands included Kunbi certificates for all Marathas, free education from kindergarten to postgraduate level, and reservation of seats for Marathas in government job recruitments.

READ | Maratha Quota Leader Ends Protest As Maharashtra Government Accepts Demands

Mr Patil had threatened to march to Mumbai's Azad Maidan for a massive protest if his demands were not met. "If the government does not agree, we will show what we can do," he had said.

READ | May Cause Unrest: Union Minister On Maharashtra's Maratha Quota Decision

Incidentally, Chaggan Bhujbal isn't the only Maharashtra leader to have spoken out; on Sunday Union Minister Narayan Rane, who is also a BJP Rajya Sabha MP from the state, called the decision an "encroachment on the rights of OBCs".

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