A sub-committee in Maharashtra, comprised of ministers from Other Backward Classes, on Monday sought a caste-based survey in the state to determine budgetary allocations, The Indian Express reported.
A delegation of committee members, headed by Nationalist Congress Party leader Chhagan Bhujbal, visited Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s official residence in Mumbai with a list of 22 demands.
In a seven-page report, the OBC sub-committee called for the “immediate resumption” of recruitment processes in government jobs.“The recruitment process has been completed for posts reserved for OBCs, VJNTs [Vimukt Jati and Nomadic Tribes] and SBCs [Special Backward Classes],” the committee said, according to the newspaper. “They should be given immediate appointments.” It also sought the immediate filling up of the posts in the state’s OBC department.
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Besides, the panel asked Thackeray to write to the Centre and seek the recommencement of an OBC census count in the state, which was last carried out in 1931, the newspaper reported. “If this is not possible, the government should survey all the OBCs in the state,” the report added.
The committee further pushed for more budgetary allocation for the backward classes, arguing that the OBCs, VJNTs and SBCs, together make up for 52% of the state’s population. Demanding for a population-based allocation of budgets, the ministers asked for a 67% increase in the funds. They said the current allocation of Rs 3,000 crore was “woefully inadequate”, The Indian Express reported.
It also demanded that students belonging to backward classes should be provided special concessions currently available to those in the Maratha community. The committee sought a five-fold increase in foreign scholarships as, well as setting up of district-level hostel facilities and hostel dearness allowance for students.
On the lines of another perk extended to the Marathas, the panel demanded a special housing scheme. Further, the committee sought a special financial package for recapitalisation of statutory corporations set up for backward class welfare, according to The Indian Express.
Others who attended the meeting included, Jitendra Awhad, Dhananjay Munde of the NCP, Vijay Wadettiwar from Congress and Shiv Sena leaders Sanjay Rathod and Gulabrao Patil. Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar was also present.
The Bhujbal-led committee was appointed by Thackeray on October 16 to look into the issues affecting the OBCs in the state, and recommend additional welfare communities for the community. The committee was formed in the backdrop of protests by the Maratha community after the Supreme Court ruled that a Bombay High Court decision upholding a state law providing reservation to Maratha community in jobs and college admissions will not be applicable this year.
In 2018, the then Devendra Fadnavis-led government in Maharashtra had approved 16% reservation for the Marathas in jobs and education after statewide protests. The Maratha community roughly forms one-third of the state population.
However, the Bombay High Court, while upholding the constitutional validity of the law stated that 16% reservation was not justifiable. It directed the state government to reduce the quota to 12-13% as per the recommendations of the State Backward Classes Commission. The court also maintained that 50% cap on total reservations imposed by the Supreme Court could be exceeded in exceptional circumstances.