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Maharashtra CM calls all-party meeting amid Maratha quota stir; Uddhav not invited

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Eknath Shinde and Uddhav Thackeray.jpg

Eknath Shinde (Left) and Uddhav Thackeray (Right)

Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde has called an all-party meeting on Wednesday to discuss the situation in the state amid the intensified Maratha quota agitation which took a violent turn in some parts of the state, but Shiv Sena (UBT) president Uddhav Thackeray has not been invited for the meet.

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An official in the Chief Minister's Office said Shinde will apprise opposition leaders of the government's plans to handle the situation and seek their support.

Incidents of violence were witnessed in many parts of the state in the last few days.

State-run bus services have been completely suspended in five Marathwada districts while curfew and Internet shut-down have been imposed in parts of Beed where the houses of political leaders were targeted by protesters.

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The CM has appealed to people not to resort to violence and also asked political parties to avoid indulging in any activities that would worsen the situation.

The Maharashtra government published an order on Tuesday asking officials concerned to issue fresh Kunbi caste certificates to eligible Maratha community members, paving the way for them to avail reservation benefits under the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category.

A government resolution (GR) asked the officials to translate old documents having references to Kunbis and written in Urdu and 'Modi' script (which was used to write Marathi language in earlier times). These documents are to be digitised, attested and then put in public domain.

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The decision comes after CM Shinde said a government-appointed committee scrutinised 1.72 crore old documents (including those of Nizam-era) and among them, 11,530 records were found where Kunbi caste was mentioned.

Kunbis, a community associated with agriculture, are grouped under the OBC category in Maharashtra and enjoy reservation benefits in education and government jobs.

Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut on Tuesday said their party president Uddhav Thackeray has not been invited for the all-party meeting called by CM Shinde.

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Slamming the Shiv Sena-led coalition government, Raut said while Maharashtra is burning, the Shinde dispensation is resorting to "shameless politics".

"Leaders with just one or no MLA have been invited for the all-party meeting, but a party with 16 MLAs and six MPs has not been extended an invitation because Shiv Sena (UBT) has become an eyesore to them," Raut said in a post on X.

The Rajya Sabha member, a close aide of Thackeray, asserted his party does not need any honour, but wants the long-pending issue of Maratha reservation to be resolved quickly.

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Activist Manoj Jarange, who is observing an indefinite fast for the quota demand at Antarwali Sarati village in Jalna district, on Tuesday said the Maratha community will not accept an "incomplete reservation" and the Maharashtra government should call a special session of the state legislature on the issue.

He threatened to stop drinking water from Wednesday evening if the "complete" quota was not granted to the Maratha community.

As per a statement issued by the Chief Minister's Office earlier, Jarange, who started his second hunger strike on October 25, began to drink water after a "satisfactory" discussion with Shinde on Wednesday morning.

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Jarange said the government should not "trouble" Maratha youth who are protesting peacefully or else a firm response will be given.

He criticised Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis who has said the perpetrators of violence in Beed will face charges under IPC section 307 (attempt to murder).

Jarange expressed displeasure over the state Cabinet's decision to grant Kunbi caste certificates to the Marathas in the Marathwada region.

"Don't be selective in granting reservation. Give Kunbi caste certificates to all Marathas. Officials should not distribute these (Kunbi) certificates (as declared by the government). The government should accept the first report of the Justice Shinde committee and convene a special session of the legislature to decide on the Maratha quota," he said.

In May 2021, the Supreme Court struck down Maharashtra's Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Act, 2018, which granted reservation to the Maratha community, for violating the 50 per cent ceiling.

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