Pune: The Prithviraj Chavan government in Maharashtra today decided to name Pune University after Savitribai Phule, a prominent social reformer of the 19th century, in yet another move aimed at retrieving the political fortunes of the Congress-NCP combine in the state.
The state cabinet cleared the proposal today. The Other Backward Classes, or the OBCs, who constitute over 50 per cent of the electorate in Maharashtra, had been spearheading a campaign to rename the prestigious university after the social reformer, who was the wife of Jyotirao Phule. The couple are considered the pioneers of women's education in India.
The Maharashtra cabinet had on June 25 decided to extend reservation meant for Other Backward Classes to the politically-powerful Marathas by reserving 16 per cent seats for them in government jobs and educational institutions; a five per cent quota was also added for Muslims. (Maharashtra Cabinet Clears Quota for Muslims and Marathas)
The three decisions, each of which targets a specific social group, are part of the steps lined up by the Congress and its alliance partner, Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), to shore up its prospects in the state, which goes to polls later this year.
The alliance has been ruling Maharashtra since 1999, but was decimated in the Lok Sabha polls this year. The two parties could only win six of the 48 seats, with the Congress' share plummeting to a mere two. The remaining 42 seats were cornered by the BJP-Shiv Sena-Swabhimani Shetkari Paksh combine.