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Why is desperate Sharad Pawar pushing for Maratha quota?

Thursday, 1 May 2014 - 1:30pm IST | Agency: dna

Troubled by reports of anti-incumbency, and negative internal feedback on the result of the Lok Sabha polls, Union minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar convened a meeting of party ministers and key leaders in Mumbai on Tuesday. For Pawar, priority seems to be on passing the Maratha reservation bill and resolving the toll issue urgently before the state legislative assembly elections scheduled this October.

The meeting at Yaswantrao Chavan auditorium in Nariman Point was attended by state NCP chief Bhaskaro Jadhav, home minister RR Patil, PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal and higher education minister Rajesh Tope among others.

Bhaskar Jadhav told dna on Wednesday that it was a causal meeting. "Lok Sabha polls in the state are over, so Pawarsaheb wanted to review various issues that had affected as well as helped us. What should be done in the future too was discussed," he said.

Among topic discussed were Maratha reservation, toll charges, local body tax (LBT), and the food security bill.

"Pawarsaheb asked us to fulfil all the promises we had made in the election manifesto before the assembly elections," Jadhav added.

NCP leader and deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar said he was not part of the meeting and hence it would not be right to comment on it.

Traders in Maharashtra are unhappy with the government's decision to abolish Octroi and impose LBT.

"We could not approve the Maratha reservation bill before the LS polls due to some technical reasons. As per 2013 population survey, Marathas account for 31% of the state's population. Hence, we cannot afford to antagonise them. They can make or break any candidate. Food security bill is also crucial. It has not been fully implemented. Due to this, the Congress may lose a couple of seats in the LS polls. We now want to speed up decisions concerning people. We have also to communicate our decisions effectively," said a senior NCP minister who took part in the meeting.

The government-appointed Rane Committee, headed by industries minister Narayan Rane to study and review the plight of Maratha and need of reservation, submitted its report a month ago to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan. It has suggested 10-14% reservation for economically backward Marathas.

"While giving reservation to Marathas, we are not going to touch the existing OBC quota. Reservation for Marathas will be from the 48% open category, and will be restricted to education and government jobs," said another NCP minister.

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