The Opposition Congress and NCP on Sunday set an aggressive tone for the winter session of the Maharashtra Legislature beginning here on Monday, by rooting for reservations to Muslims, Dhangars, Lingayats and other socio-economic backward communities along the lines of Marathas and a compensation of Rs 50,000 per hectare to drought-affected farmers in the State.
On a day when chief minister Devendra Fadnavis announced that his Government would grant reservations to Marathas in jobs and education under a new Socio-Economic Backward Class (SEBC) category, the Opposition parties gave foretaste of their belligerent mood by boycotting the customary tea hosted by Fadnavis on the eve of the winter session of the State Legislature.
Addressing a news conference after a joint meeting of the group leaders of various Opposition parties held a day ahead of the start of the winter session of the State Legislature, leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil dubbed the BJP-Shiv Sena Government in the state as the “Thug of Maharashtra” which had failed to fulfil all its promises during the last four years of its rule.
“The Chief Minister has asked the Maratha community to prepare themselves for celebrations on December 1 (over grant of reservations). While we are for the State Government according reservations, what about the reservations for Muslims, Dhangars, Lingayats and other socio-econ0mic backward communities?,” Vikhe-Patil asked.
Charging that the Maharashtra Government had put pressure on the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission (MSBCC) to come out with its report on granting reservations to Maratha community, Vikhe-Patil said: “We would like the State Government to clarify as to how it would accord reservations to Marathas without disturbing the existing reservations to other communities. We want the State Government to table the MSBCC’s report on the first day of the winter session of the State Legislature tomorrow”.
Vikhe-Patil accused the Devendra Fadnavis Government of having gone back on its promise of according reservations to Dhangar community. “A study report submitted to the State government by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) on socio-economic status of the Dhangar community is gathering dust,” he said.
Slamming the state government for its failure to remedy the drought situation in the state, Vikhe-Patil said: “Though the state government declared drought in many parts of the state, it has not come relief measures or financial assistance for the affected farmers. We demand that the farmers be given Rs 50,000 per hectare of compensation and horticulturists be given Rs 1 lakh per hectare. In addition, the state Government should waive 100 per cent crop loans taken by farmers during Kharif season”.
Leader of the Opposition in the State Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde of the NCP, who addressed the news conference with Vikhe-Patil, also demanded a compensation of Rs 50,000 per hectare to the drought-affected farmers.
Munde came down heavily on the ruling Shiv Sena for raising the Ram Mandir issue at this stage. “Through an announcement by Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray that he would go to Ayodhya on November 25 to press for the construction of Ram Mandir, the Sena is running away from its responsibility of being the ruling party. What was holding the Shiv Sena from constructing Ram Mandir during the last four years?,” Munde asked.
Charging Fadnavis and Uddhav Thackeray as “Thugs of Maharashtra”, Munde said: “Fadnavis and Uddhav Thackeray have cheated the people of Maharashtra during the last four years. They deserve to be named as Thugs of Maharashtra”.
Munde also hit out at the chief minister for its failure to act against the 16 ministers in his Cabinet facing allegations of corruption. “ We will not rest till the state government does not act against these 16 ministers,” he said.