The situation of the Dhangar (shepherd) community members in some areas is worse than that of Scheduled Tribes (ST), Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said Thursday in the state Legislative Council.
He also said that recommendation for quota to the community under the ST category has to be sent to the Centre, which will be done before the state and the general elections due next year.
To a question raised by Congress MLC Sharad Ranpise on providing quota to the Dhangar community, Fadnavis said the government has received the report of the city-based Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) over it, and it was being studied.
The Dhangar community has been pressing for reservation under the ST category.
Notably, the state Assembly Thursday unanimously passed a bill proposing 16 per cent reservation for Marathas under socially and educationally backward category.
Fadnavis said the state could provide reservation to the Maratha community after bringing a law for it, however, for the Dhangar community, the government has to submit a proposal to the Centre.
"We are committed to provide them reservation in a time-bound period under the ST category, while ensuring that the current reservation for adivasis (tribals) is not affected," he said.
He said that according to some reports, the population of Dhangars is around 1.11 lakh. But, such reports have no basis as no caste certificate is needed to include people in the community.
"We needed a report from an expert institute, so we chose TISS. They went to five states and prepared a comprehensive report. The report says the situation of Dhangars is worse than that of Scheduled Tribes in some areas," he said.
The government will table the action taken report (ATR) on the study of TISS in the next session of Legislature, he added.
Leader of Opposition Dhananjay Munde then said that while the State Backward Class Commission (SBCC), which recommended reservation to Marathas, has constitutional validity, the TISS does not have it.
He asked if the recommendations of TISS will be acceptable, according to law.
To this, Fadnavis said a report from the backward class commission is not required while sending a proposal to the Centre for STs, and that some kind of study is needed before a recommendation can be made.
"Institutes like TISS and the Gokhale Institute (in Pune) are prestigious," he said.
To another query, Fadnavis said the recommendation to the Centre will be made before the Election Commission of India's Model Code of Conduct comes into force.
He also said that there are no indications that the Lok Sabha and the state Assembly polls would be held simultaneously.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)