Maharashtra ministers hailed the passage of the Bill on Maratha reservation as historic and sounded confident it will stand judicial scrutiny even as the opposition attributed the measure to the long struggle by the community.
The Maharashtra Legislature Thursday passed a Bill proposing 16 per cent reservation in education and government jobs for the Marathas, declared as socially and educationally backward class by the government.
The quota will be in addition to the existing 52 per cent reservation in the state for SC, STs and OBCs.
The Dhangar (shepherd) community has been pressing for reservation under the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category.
"We will soon send our recommendations to the Centre so that they can be included in the ST category," he said.
Minister for OBC and VJNT Ram Shinde, a member of the cabinet sub-committee formed to look at the issue, said 16 per cent reservation has been provided keeping in mind the sentiments of community members and their financial and educational backwardness.
"We are sure that our Bill will stand the scrutiny of courts as it has been made legally sound," Shinde said.
The politically influential community constitutes 30 per cent of the state's population.
"Our party has always been of the opinion that the community should have got reservation based on their backwardness. This is a historic day in the history of our state," she said.
"We will stand with the OBCs. Also, the government will ensure that this Bill on Maratha reservation stands in the court.
"We will also extend all possible help to those protestors (their family members) who have lost their lives (during agitaiton)," Shinde said.
"The Sakal Maratha Samaj raised the demand for Maratha reservation through 58 morchas (marches) across Maharashtra. The passage of the Maratha reservation act in the legislature today is a success of their struggle. I congratulate the Maratha community on their victory," Chavan told reporters.
"We would have been happier if this government had restored the 5 per cent reservation given to the Muslim community (by the erstwhile Congress-NCP). This government is biased," Khan said.
Opposition NCP said the struggle of the Maratha community has finally borne fruit.
"They are organising 'jallosh' (celebrations). But we are aware of the sacrifices of 40 young men, who laid their lives for the quota. Their families didn't celebrate Diwali. We are happy that the reservation has been given. But not 100 per cent happy," NCP leader Ajit Pawar said.
"We are sad too for those who laid their lives. We pay tributes to them. None shall take credit for the decision, all took efforts for it. The community had taken efforts for it and it is their success," the former minister said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)