Amid heated exchange of words between ministers in the raging controversy over the contentious Maratha reservation issue in Maharashtra, the Chief Minister Eknath Shinde at the weekly cabinet meeting on Wednesday asked his ministers to keep restraint and avoid indulging in making statements.
A veteran minister and OBC leader Chhagan Bhujbal, who has been hogging headlines for opposing extending Kunbi certificate to Maratha community is believed to have explained his stand and strongly demanded that the offences registered for violence and arson in Beed targeting the elected representatives should not be summarily withdrawn instead those involved in such instances be punished. He also pointed out how the police turned spectators during the violence after action against them after the police lathicharge in Jalna’s Antarwali-Sarati village two months ago.
According to a minister present in the meeting, state excise minister Shambhuraj Desai questioned Bhujbal about his statement that the ‘government will fall’ if the situation persists. “Bhujbal’s reply was that his statement should be read in the context of police inaction at the time of violence in Beed district during the Maratha reservation,” the minister said.
Authoritative Sources said that Bhujbal said the pro Maratha activist Manoj Jarange Patil has already announced to shortly kick off his statewide tour adding that the other side is set to reply to it. “How can one side remain silent while the other continues to make statements and tour the state,” Bhujbal reportedly said in the meeting.
During the meeting, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) minister chose to play on both sides, the clear division was between the Ajit Pawar – affiliated Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Shiv Sena led by Eknath Shinde.
“Chief Minister intervened and said that it was important to maintain peace all over the state as there will be Diwali. He asked both ministers to not escalate the matter and stop indulging in resorting to verbal war until the next few days,” another minister said.
A delegation of OBC leaders on Tuesday had held a meeting with deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis demanding to ensure that the OBC reservation is not compromised and Fadnavis had then assured them. The OBC organisations have announced plans to hold statewide OBC Elgar rallies across the state, starting from November 17.
Reacting to Maharashtra minister Bhujbal’s statement that giving Kunbi caste certificates to Marathas could put OBC reservations in peril, his cabinet colleague Shambhuraj Desai claimed that Bhujbal has a habit of making such statements to gain publicity. “Such statements can create confusion and rift between castes in Maharashtra. This may worsen the situation in the state. We will present our stand before the chief minister. Perhaps there will be a cabinet meeting tomorrow, we will discuss it,” Desai had said.
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