Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, who arrived in Delhi on Tuesday, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi to reportedly discuss the Maratha reservation issue.
Speaking about the meeting, Thackeray said the meet was “personal" and not political in nature, stressing that he had good relations with the prime minister. “We may not be politically together but that doesn’t mean our relationship has broken. ‘Main koi Nawaz Sharif se nahi milne gaya tha’ (I didn’t go to meet Nawaz Sharif)," Thackeray said.
A report in ANI stated that Thackeray had last month written to PM Modi to take steps to declare the Maratha community in the state as Socially and Educationally Backward (SEBC) to enable them to claim the reservation in education and public employment at least to 12 per cent and 13 per cent respectively.
We may not be politically together but that doesn't mean our relationship has broken. 'Main koi Nawaz Sharif se nahi milne gaya tha' (I didn't go to meet Nawaz Sharif). So if I meet him (PM) separately in person, there is nothing wrong with it: Maharashtra CM Thackeray in Delhi pic.twitter.com/zQQir5t5ZD— ANI (@ANI) June 8, 2021
Thackeray’s visit to the national capital comes after Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece Saamana said in its editorial on May 31 that the battle for Maratha reservation will be fought in Delhi. It said it becomes necessary to knock on the doors of Delhi on the issue of the Maratha reservation. The editorial referring to the Supreme Court’s observation and said only the central government has the right to make such law regarding the reservation.
Weeks after the apex court struck down the the Socially and Educationally Backward Class (SEBC) reservation given to the Maratha community, the Maha Vikas Aghadi government issued an order on May 31, stating that eligible candidates from the Maratha community could avail benefits under the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) quota. The EWS quota is open to all those not covered by any other quota and whose family annual income is below Rs 8 lakh.
Maratha outfits have been protesting to push for the reservation. Maratha Kranti Morcha staged an agitation in Beed on Saturday under the leadership of Vinayak Mete, the chief of Shiv Sangram party, which is a BJP ally.
Maratha leader and Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Member of Parliament (MP) Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati, a descendent of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, was also supposed to attend a function at Raigad fort on the occasion of coronation day anniversary of the Maratha warrior king last week.
Why Did SC Scrap the Reservation?
The court order was passed to correct a procedural anomaly arising out of the SEBC quota enacted by the state in 2018. Soon after this quota came into existence, the Centre enacted the EWS quota providing 10 per cent reservation in jobs and educational institutions to the economically weaker sections in the general category in January 2019, an Indian Express report stated.
This led to pouring in of complaints that Maratha community candidates had started availing benefits from both SEBC and EWS, prompting the state government to issue another order in July 2020. According to this new directive, those availing the benefits of the SEBC were not eligible to get the benefits of the EWS.
Two months later, the state cabinet, however, again decided to allow Maratha candidates to avail of EWS category after the SC placed a stay on the Maratha quota. Soon after, the government was forced to put the cabinet decision on hold for some time after opposition. With an order in December 2020, availing EWS benefits was made “optional", IE report quoted sources as saying.
The government issued a new order in May 2021 (after the Maratha quota struck down by SC) stating that the SEBC candidates can avail benefits of the EWS depending on their eligibility. IE report quoted sources as saying that it was to make it evident to the Maratha community that these benefits are no longer “optional" for them and they can avail EWS benefits now. He added that all the orders issued for the SEBC have been cancelled.
According to Indian Express, the order says the EWS reservation will remain in force for all future admissions in the educational institutes. Officials said it was necessary to put out the order as the legal battle in the apex court on the Maratha quota is a long-drawn process and hence all the measures have been taken to provide EWS benefits to the Maratha community in the near future.