Yuvaraj Sambhajiraje Chatrapati, the scion of the Kolhapur royal family — a branch of the kingdom founded by Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj — has emerged as a prominent face of the agitation demanding reservations for the Maratha community. Sambhajiraje speaks with Dhaval Kulkarni regarding this and other issues. Excerpts.
What do you have to say about the opposition from OBC organisations to your demand for Maratha quota?
A committee under industries minister Narayan Rane is examining the issue. Those who want reservations can get it without eating into others’ share. The other option is introducing reservations on financial criteria but the Constitution must be amended for it. The easy way out is including Marathas in the OBC category and increasing the quota ceiling beyond 50%.
The Marathas account for the third of the state’s population, majority of CM and elected representatives who control the co-operative sector. Does this demand underline the failure of the established Maratha leadership?
Absolutely. The 10% from the community hold the reins of the sugar and co-operative sector and decide who comes to power. Elections see the use of freebies and money power, and the Maratha community has been trapped in it. These leaders are exploiting the community.
There is criticism that reservations are meant to correct social discrimination and historic wrongs, and not as an instrument of ‘garibi hatao.’ What do you believe?
In 1902, Chatrapati Rajashri Shahu Maharaj of Kolhapur introduced 50% reservations for backwards, including Marathas. Reservations in education and jobs have helped OBCs, SCs and STs.
The statue of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in the Arabian Sea has been pending for years. Is the government dragging its feet?
CM Prithviraj Chavan has said many clearances are needed for the work to begin. But what about the forts which embody his history? Getting funding for forts will not be converted into votes. The statue has been pending for a decade now. In contrast, Gujarat CM Narendra Modi has commenced work on Sardar Patel’s statue. The question here is, how did they manage to do it and we could not?