Latching onto BJP chief Amit Shah's remark that reservations cannot exceed 50 per cent, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar today said that the Maharashtra Chief Minister will have to show the "courage" to overrule Mr Shah while granting quota to the Marathas.
He also batted for quota for the Muslims and questioned the BJP's stand that reservations could not be given on religious lines.
The Maharashtra legislature on November 29 unanimously passed a bill providing 16 per cent quota in jobs and education to the Marathas, taking the overall reservations in the state to 68 per cent from the existing 52.
"He (Shah) has clearly said that reservations can not be given above 50 per cent and demand for the same was not right. Now, it is the test of the chief minister (Devendra Fadnavis)," Mr Pawar said, when asked about Mr Shah's comment.
"We are watching if the chief minister shows the courage of taking a different view, overruling the stand of his party chief," he added.
Mr Pawar was speaking to reporters after an event in Mumbai where former Member of Legislative Council from Nashik, Apurva Hiray, returned to the NCP fold after quitting the ruling BJP.
Asked about the public interest litigation in the High Court against the Maratha quota legislation, Mr Pawar said people have the right to approach the court.
"Our only stand in this matter is the government should implement the 16 per cent quota given to the new community (Marathas) without hurting the interests of other communities (which already have reservation)," Mr Pawar said.
As to reservation for Muslims, Mr Pawar said, "It must be given. These are educationally, socially and economically backward sections... The previous (Congress-NCP) government had taken a decision (to grant Muslim quota). The court also approved it. The government today says it would not give reservations based on religion....the BJP leadership has a different view of people belonging to other religions."
Addressing poll rallies in Telangana on November 25, Mr Shah had opposed the TRS government's proposal to increase reservation for the Muslims in that state, saying the Supreme Court has imposed an overall cap of 50 per cent.
"I want to tell Chandrasekhar Rao, the Supreme Court has fixed 50 per cent ceiling. If you want to provide 12 per cent reservation, from whose quota are you going to carve it out: from Dalits, tribals or OBCs. Decide this first," Mr Shah had said.
Chief minister Mr Rao promised reservation to the minority community despite being aware of this ceiling and forwarded the proposal (bill) to the Centre, Mr Shah had alleged.