On February 20th, the Maharashtra Assembly will convene for a special session, with the Maratha reservation issue firmly at the forefront. This development follows Maratha quota activist Manoj Jarange Patil’s ongoing hunger strike and the submission of a crucial report by the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission. However, legal hurdles and concerns from various stakeholders cast a shadow of uncertainty over the session’s potential outcomes.

Maratha Community’s Long-Standing Demand

The Maratha community, constituting approximately 30% of Maharashtra’s population, has long sought reservation in education and government jobs. However, their aspirations faced a setback in 2021 when the Supreme Court struck down the state’s Maratha reservation law, exceeding the 50% ceiling mandated by the Constitution.

Hope Revived with Commission Report

Jarange Patil’s hunger strike reignited the issue, prompting the state government to expedite the Backward Class Commission’s survey on the Maratha community’s socio-economic and educational backwardness. The report’s submission on February 17th offered a glimmer of hope, with Chief Minister Eknath Shinde promising to grant reservations “according to the terms of the law” after the Assembly session.

Shinde Assures Community and Seeks Cooperation

Emphasizing his commitment to Maratha reservations without affecting existing quotas for other communities, Shinde urged Jarange Patil to end his fast, assuring the government’s positive intent. He highlighted the extensive survey encompassing nearly 2.5 crore people and laid out the roadmap: presenting the report to the cabinet committee and then granting reservations through due legislative process after the Assembly session.

Legal Hurdles and Skepticism

Despite Shinde’s assurances, legal hurdles loom large. The Supreme Court’s rejection of both the review plea and the curative petition against its 2021 verdict continues to be a stumbling block. Maratha Kranti Morcha coordinator Sanjay Lakhe Patil echoed these concerns, calling the government’s move “deceptive” and its attempt to enact a new law “against the SC ruling.”

Opposition Leaders Cautious with Curative Petition Pending

Opposition leader Chhagan Bhujbal, while receiving a threat letter, has adopted a cautious stance. He acknowledged the ongoing hunger strike and the need for a solution but advised waiting for the Supreme Court’s decision on the curative petition before proceeding with legislation.

Balancing Act Amidst Diverse Opinions

The upcoming Assembly session faces the challenge of navigating diverse opinions and finding a solution that adheres to legal constraints. Stakeholders across political and social spectrums will be keenly observing the proceedings, hoping for a resolution that addresses the Maratha community’s aspirations while upholding constitutional principles.

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Sanchit Raj, an experienced editor at Atom News, is passionate about health and politics reporting. Sanchit's commitment to promoting well-being and highlighting political developments adds a valuable dimension to our coverage, ensuring our readers stay informed and engaged in current affairs.