The poll-bound Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government in Maharashtra decided on Wednesday to provide 16 per cent reservation to Marathas and five per cent to the Muslim communities in jobs and education. Of the state’s 110 million people, Marathas are 32 per cent; Muslims are 11 per cent. The quota proposal was strongly pushed by both parties' state leadership and the state cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, gave its consent. A senior minister, who did not want to be named, told Business Standard: “Today's decision is without infringing on the reservation of backward classes, other backward classes and other communities. Today’s reservations decisions will be over and above the 52 per cent reservation quota which currently exists for various communities in Maharashtra.” The NCP was aggressive and had demanded an early decision. Both parties hope the new quota will help them regain their traditional vote bank and partially tackle the Narendra Modi wave and anti-incumbency (their alliance has been in power since 1999) in the Assembly elections slated for September-October.
NCP's national chief Sharad Pawar had issued the NCP manifesto on April 7 and had promised reservations for Marathas and Muslims. State industries minister Narayan Rane, who had headed a committee on Maratha reservation, had recently announced the government would decide after the code of conduct for the legislative council election ended. These results were announced on Tuesday. The Rane committee had recommended 20 per cent reservation for Marathas after conducting a survey of 500,000 community members and 1.8 million families. Its report was given to the state government in February. Both reservations are under Article 15(4) and 16(4) of the Constitution. Rane had recently said his report had followed the law in Tamil Nadu, where 69 per cent of seats in job and educational institutions in the state are reserved for backward communities, due to the contention that they constitute 87 per cent of the population.
However, the state BJP has attacked the Congress-NCP government for providing 5% reservation to Muslim community terming it as unconstitutional.