As the Maratha organisations are set to intensify their agitation demanding restoration of the reservation, the Maharashtra government on Tuesday decided several financial sops for the community.
The government has decided to extend the facilities available for the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) to the Socially and Economically Backward Class (SEBC), under which the Maratha community falls. In an earlier decision, the government had barred the Maratha community from getting benefits of the EWS, which has 10 per cent quota as per the Union government’s Act.
The government has also decided to apply a scholarship scheme named after great social reformer Rajshri Shahu Maharaj for the EWS. Subsequently, the Maratha students will be eligible for the scholarship. The government has made a provision of Rs 600 crore for this scheme.
Similarly, another scheme under, which the government pays the students’ hostel allowances, will be applicable for the EWS and subsequently the Maratha students. The government has made a provision of Rs 80 crore for the scheme.
The government has reserved Rs 400 crore for the Annasaheb Patil Arthik Vikas Mahamanadal, a state-run corporation that provides financial assistance to the Maratha entrepreneurs. It has made it clear that the financial provision could be increased if needed.
In yet another attempt to pacify the agitating community, the state government has decided to recruit a relative of the Maratha agitators who lost their lives in the State Transport. The recruitment is expected to begin in a month. Also, the government has decided to withdraw cases against the Maratha agitators.
The sops have come a day after the state government filed a petition before the Supreme Court praying for lifting the stay on implementation of the reservation to the Maratha community. The state’s SEBC Act, 2018, gave the community 12 and 13 per cent reservation in educational institutes and government jobs respectively. The SC had stayed the reservation on September 9.
Pravin Gaikwad, president of Maratha Mahasangh, welcomed the decision. He said the community members should be prepared for getting accommodated in the EWS. “I am not very hopeful about the legal validity of the SEBC Act in the Supreme Court. No one knows how much time the Supreme Court will take to deliver its final verdict,” he said.
Gaikwad said the Maratha youths should join the global competition and explore the financial opportunities instead of agitating on the streets for reservation.