The ongoing Maratha agitations are politically driven and have the backing of both Shiv Sena and Congress-NCP. The demands of the agitators who come from the Maratha community which comprises of 32% population in the state have driven them on the roads. Their demand is to implement the 16% reservation given to Marathas. The 16% reservation for the Marathas was granted by the government back in 2014 but the matter is stuck in courts as of today. In a surprising move Uddhav Thackeray, the Shiv Sena chief, after supporting the Maratha agitations also backed the demands for reservations to Muslims. In a statement given to the press on Monday, Uddhav Thackeray said, “Apart from the Marathas, reservation demands of Dhangars, Muslims and other communities should also be taken into account.” His statement was welcomed by the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen on Tuesday. The AIMIM also took this as an opening to attack the Devendra Fadnavis led government for not giving reservation to the Muslims.
AIMIM MLA Imtiaz Jaleel said, “While rejecting the demands of the Maratha community for OBC status, the high court had allowed 5 per cent reservation for Muslims. In case of the Maratha community, the court had rejected the move and called for setting up of a Backward Classes Commission. In Muslims’ case, the court has supported the quota in education based on circumstantial evidence. However, it is highly regrettable that the state government is yet to implement the HC directive.” He also spoke about his party AIMIM which is planning to launch an agitation for demanding a job quota for Muslims.
The Congress-NCP government in 2014 had approved 16% reservation for the Marathas and 5% for Muslims in the state. While the high court had put a stay on the 16% reservation given to Marathas and the 5% reservation in job quotas to Muslims, though it had not stayed the ordinance giving Muslims 5% reservation in educational institutions. According to a BJP leader however the ordinance which was issued in 2014 lapsed on 23rd December, 2014. “The ordinance, however, lapsed on December 23, 2014, after which the government scrapped the resolution, the BJP leader said.
It is shocking how the Shiv Sena has backed the reservations for Muslims considering its previous stance against the minority community. Faced with the uphill task of being relevant in Maharashtra the situations have forced Shiv Sena to assume a pseudo-secular role in the recent past. Under the able leadership of its founder Bala Saheb Thackeray the Shiv Sena had never been this weak. With his demise even its grand standing core attire of Hindutva too seems to be eroding as they harbour appeasement polices for the minorities which they had ably scoffed at, laughed and criticised the Congress.
Last year too before the BMC polls they had taken out various advertisements in Urdu papers to show their new stance and had taken to attacking the BJP. This policy of minority appeasement might have worked for other parties in the past but it is just plain bizarre for a party like Shiv Sena. It stands to lose its relevance today if it continues with this type of politics while the Congress and NCP and AIMIM stand to gain from the new pseudo-secular, appeasement politics driven Shiv Sena agenda.