Quota protest looms on Maharashtra, several legislators threaten to resign

The Marathas, who constitute 33 per cent of the state’s population, have been demanding 16% quota in education and employment.
The Maratha Kranti Morcha Coordination Committee has announced a statewide agitation in Maharashtra starting Wednesday, unless the state government accepts its demand for reservation for Marathas.

MLAs cutting across party lines met the governor on Monday to tell him that the situation in the state was tense. The Marathas, who constitute 33 per cent of the state’s population, have been demanding 16 per cent quota in education and employment. If conceded, this will breach the 50 per cent cap on reservations set by the judiciary.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has called for an emergency session of the Maharashtra legislature. Several buses were set on fire and several people committed suicide on Monday as MLAs from all parties sent SOSes to their high command, asking to be permitted to resign from the legislature en masse.

Fadnavis met with the Sakal Maratha Organisation, along with Maharashtra Swabhiman Party president and Rajya Sabha MP Narayan Rane, and assured them of the government’s “commitment” to the welfare of the community. He also said the government had cleared withdrawal of all cases against Maratha youth who had taken to streets during the reservation agitation, except those involved in violence and those related to offences against police.

Other communities  are seeing an opportunity to cite their quota demands. The Dhanghar community has warned of a street agitation to press for inclusion in the Scheduled Tribe category. In Vidarbha, there is a growing unrest among the Halba-Kosti community, as their ST status has been challenged in court. Of the 52 per cent reservations in the state, the quota for Scheduled Castes is 13 per cent, STs 7 per cent, OBCs 19 per cent, and denotified nomadic tribes and special backward category together 13 per cent. The OBCs believe they should get at least 27 per cent.

On Monday, at least six buses were set on fire in  Pune by agitators in the Chakan Industrial area, which is located on the Pune-Nashik highway on the city's outskirts. The sudden breach of peace affected traffic movement in the area.

Additional police forces have been rushed to bring the situation under control and the superintendent of police of the area, Sandeep Patil, who took charge just on Monday, too has left for the location.