Jalna/Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar, November 6 (Language) Maharashtra minister and Nationalist Congress Party (Ajit Pawar faction) leader Chhagan Bhujbal said on Monday that there is a backdoor plan to provide reservation to Marathas under the Other Backward Caste (OBC) category. The ongoing efforts will be opposed. He demanded an inquiry into the incidents of violence and vandalism in various parts of Beed during the Maratha reservation movement.
During this violence, many people set fire to the houses of some MLAs.
He also said that violence and pressure tactics will not be tolerated. His comments have come in the backdrop of protests in various parts of the state demanding reservation for Marathas.
It is noteworthy that Ajit Pawar faction leader and State Agriculture Minister Dhananjay Munde has also demanded a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate the violence in Beed district.
Bhujbal stressed that he was not against giving reservation to Marathas in government jobs and education, but it could be given separately.
“The protesters are using force and intimidation to achieve their objectives,” Bhujbal told reporters. An increase in incidents of arson and violence was seen in the Marathwada region during the ongoing protests demanding Maratha reservation.
He said that when Maratha leaders realized that they would not get reservation directly (outside the OBC quota), they tried to get it through the backdoor (within the OBC category).
“We will not accept such tactics and will fight to protect our reservation,” he said. The Constitution has provided reservation for the upliftment of socially backward communities and it is not a poverty alleviation programme.
The minister said, “BR Ambedkar, the chief architect of the Constitution, has provided reservation on the basis of social backwardness and not on the basis of economic criteria.”
The Maharashtra government has expanded the scope of the Justice Sandeep Shinde (Retd) committee formed to study the feasibility of granting Kunbi certificates to members of the Maratha community in the wake of protests led by social activist Manoj Jarange. Manoj Jarange had recently withdrawn his indefinite fast on the assurance of the government.
Jaranga’s demands also include giving Kunbi certificates to Marathas so that they can get reservation under Other Backward Classes.
Speaking to reporters in Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar, Bhujbal demanded an investigation into the incidents of violence that took place in Beed and Majalgaon during the Maratha reservation movement in the Marathwada region.
He also alleged that the allotment of Kunbi caste certificates (to Marathas possessing the required documents) across the state is illegal, which will lead to the dismantling of OBC reservation.
Bhujbal visited the houses of NCP MLAs Prakash Solanke and Sandeep Kshirsagar in Beed district, who were targeted in the violence.
“A hotel in Beed was vandalized for an hour in front of two policemen, who were helpless to stop the vandals,” he said. The residence of senior leader Jaydutt Kshirsagar was set on fire even though he had not said anything on the issue of Maratha reservation.
Bhujbal claimed that police personnel might have decided not to take action during the Beed violence as the crimes registered in connection with the lathi charge in Antarwali Sarti village in Jalna district had been withdrawn.
He also criticized a former high court judge who interacted with social activist Jarange demanding Maratha reservation and convinced him to call off his fast along with a government delegation last week.
Bhujbal asked, “What kind of justice can OBCs expect if the commission members start visiting the agitation sites?”
He said that the violence in Beed city and Majalgaon village did not happen suddenly. “Different mobs were involved,” Bhujbal said. 700-800 people were involved in this. An inquiry should be ordered to understand why the police became so helpless despite having weapons and did not try to stop the agitators.
Speaking on reservation for Marathas, Bhujbal expressed surprise that the number of cases from Kunbi background is continuously increasing.
He said that now shops are being opened in every district and (Kunbi caste) certificates are being given, but this is illegal and neither OBCs nor Marathas will benefit from this measure.
He said that if such certificates are given in the entire state, then what is the use of Justice Shinde Committee? Bhujbal said that vote bank politics is being done on the issue of reservation.
Bhujbal, MLA from Nashik district, said that Marathas are being asked not to vote for him. He asked whether they (leaders making such appeal) do not want OBC votes? He said that OBCs can also think in the same way.
Bhujbal said, “Jarange says that the people involved in the violence and arson in Beed were not Maratha workers. If this is true, then why is he demanding quashing of the criminal cases?
Manoj Jarange, demanding Maratha reservation, on Monday alleged that Maharashtra Minister Chhagan Bhujbal’s Beed visit was politically motivated and Bhujbal remembers the OBC category as per his convenience.
Addressing a press conference, Jarange, who is recuperating at a hospital in Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar city, said Marathas and OBCs are friends and efforts to provoke them would prove futile.
Jarange also demanded an investigation into the police lathi charge on his supporters in Antarwali Sarathi village of Jalna district in September. It is noteworthy that Jarange was then fasting in that village demanding Maratha reservation.
Jarange said that if Bhujbal feels that the Beed incidents were pre-planned and wants a probe, then a probe should be ordered into the intervening lathi charge and firing incident as well. Jarange said on Monday that he had condemned the violence in Beed.
He said Bhujbal’s criticism of a former High Court judge meeting him with a government delegation should be condemned. “The delegation came here to save a life (referring to the indefinite fast undertaken by them),” Jarange said.
Jarange also targeted Bhujbal for his comment that reservation was being given under pressure. Jarange said, “Reservation cannot be given under pressure because the law is the same for everyone. On the contrary, you enjoyed the quota that we were under pressure. They don’t want to give back the reservation so they are playing tricks. There is no pressure, but the government has understood the truth.
He alleged that Bhujbal was losing his base among OBCs and his Beed visit was a ploy to gain sympathy.