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The Maharashtra government is conducting a sample survey of the Maratha community members in over 700 villages of the state, ahead of the deadline set by the Maratha Kranti Morcha over its demand of reservation. According to Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission Chairman, Justice (retired) M G Gaikwad, the sample survey has been undertaken for data collection to ascertain the economic backwardness within the community to justify its demand for quota in public service and educational institutions. The Maratha organisations in Maharashtra last month gave an ultimatum to the state government that it should address their demands chief among them being reservations for the community by February 10. They plan to revive the agitation after February 19, the birth anniversary of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Gaikwad said the survey will focus on three main bases the financial, educational and employment status of the Maratha community members. "The result of the survey would be assessed by the commission once it is completed," Gaikwad said. Two villages from each of the 356 tehsils in Maharashtra and some municipal councils will be covered under the sample survey, he said. The selection of villages has been done by the regional members of the commission, he added. Quotas for Marathas, a politically influential community that constitutes around 30 per cent of the state's population, has been a hugely contentious issue. The Bombay High Court had in 2014 disallowed 16 per cent reservation for them in government services and educational institutions. In 2003-04, National Commission for Backward Classes rejected the demand for including the Maratha community in the category of Other Backward Class (OBC) category. The Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission had held in 2008 that "Marathas are both economically and politically a forward caste.
They never faced social stigma to invite the backward class status." Various Maratha organisations held massive 'silent marches' last year at 58 places across the state, demanding reservations in jobs and education, among other things.