What did Shinde’s minister say on Maratha reservation, now apologizes after the ruckus

A minister in the Eknath Shinde government got into controversy due to his statement regarding Maratha reservation. Maharashtra Public Health Minister Tanaji Sawant on Sunday courted controversy by saying that the “itch” of reservation has started in the Maratha community. However, after being attacked by pro-Maratha outfits as well as opposition political parties like Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Congress and Shiv Sena, Sawant on Monday tendered an apology. He later also said that he has been an ardent supporter of reservation for the Maratha community, and as a minister, would ensure that the community gets a quota before his ministers step down.

Sawant on Monday took a dig that the “itch” of reservation for the community has started once again after the change of government in the state. In May last year, the Supreme Court had struck down a Maharashtra law granting reservation to the Maratha community in government jobs and education as unconstitutional. “For two years, nothing happened with respect to (Maratha) reservation (after the Supreme Court’s stay). Now, after the change of government in the state, there is an itch for reservation. Even That I also want it and my next generation also wants it. We will not sit silent till we get it (reservation).”

“Our leaders Eknath Shinde and Devendra Fadnavis will ensure reservation as per our demand. They will not keep silent till reservation is provided,” Sawant, a member of Shiv Sena’s Shinde faction, said. Sawant was referring to the recent protests by the Maratha community demanding reservation. Sawant’s remarks drew sharp reactions from the Maratha community as well as political parties. Maratha leader Vinod Patil demanded that Sawant should be warned by the government or it would have dire consequences.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and former state minister Dhananjay Munde said people will take away Sawant’s ministerial post forever for making such statements. Ambadas Danve, a member of Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray faction and leader of opposition in the state Legislative Council, also condemned the minister’s statement. Maharashtra Congress President Nana Patole said that his statement is objectionable and irresponsible. They demanded the dismissal of Sawant. Patole also asked Shinde and Fadnavis to give their views on Sawant’s remarks.

Sawant, who came under attack for his remarks, later apologized and said that he did not intend to hurt the sentiments of the Maratha community. Maharashtra minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Chandrakant Patil said on the issue, “From 2014 to 2019, the Fadnavis government ensured reservation for the Maratha community. This was upheld by the High Court. However, the then (Maha) Vikas Aghadi) government lost the case in the Supreme Court.” Patil said, “Why didn’t you (MVA government) do anything in the last two-and-a-half years? We would have supported you too. That’s what Tanaji Sawant meant.”

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