Marathas in Maharashtra have once again taken to streets to demand the reservation for the people of their community in the government jobs and educational institutions. They have attacked buses, stopped the trains and hurled the stones at public properties. The agitation is being spearheaded by the Maratha Kranti Morcha, which is also being joined by another outfit the Sakal Maratha Samaj. The roots of this demand date back to 1990s when the demand first came into limelight in the wake of Madal Commision.
In 2014, the then NCP-Congress government approved of 16 per cent quota to Maratha community in jobs and educational institution in an attempt to appease the community and garner the vote bank as the state was going on to polls the very same year. But later the High Court struck down the government’s policy, which the Fadnavis government challenged in the Supreme Court. Since then the matter has been pending there.
Marathas constitute almost 32 per cent of total population of the state. They have been socially dominant, economically well-off and politically empowered for a long period of time. Which is evident by the fact that they own near 75 per cent land of the state, and 86 out of 105 sugar factories in the state. Marathas have got well representation in the state assembly. Over 60 per cent MLAs in the states have been Marathas since 1962. And 12 out of 18 Chief Ministers have been Marathas so far.
These above figures clearly show that this demand for reservation is not at all based on the social backwardness and isolation of the community people. So, what does it signify? This demand for reservation, which is primarily meant for the socially marginalized section of the society which Marathas are not, must be seen in the larger context. There is no denial in the fact that, in our country, reservation is viewed, by many people, as the best and easiest tool to get an extra advantage over other people so that they can enjoy its benefits. While the constitution makers had framed the concept of reservation as an affirmative action to alleviate and mainstream the historically marginalized and exploited sections of the society. But, unfortunately, time and again we have witnessed the reservation being exploited and misused even by the socially advanced class to further their interests at the expense of the ones who are deserving in a true sense.
This demand for reservation by the Marathas also speaks a volume about the prevailing agrarian crisis and lack of job opportunities in the state. It’s the disenchantment and frustration of the people which make them see reservation as a last hope to help them get employment and redress their grievances. That’s why people deem reservation as the only way to resolve their all the problems. Since the people agitating for the demand of reservation constitute a considerable chunk of the population, thus none of the political parties seems to directly reject the demand or show any objection against it with a fear of losing the vote bank.