You are on page 1of 1


JULY 13-19, 2014

Poori sabji or
paratha and tea
Bus fare
(Mangolpuri to ITO)
Home to work
and back
Chhole & chawal
A cutting chai and
2 boiled eggs
Vada pav at
a local shop
Cutting chai
Mankhurd slum to
CST via 2nd class
local train
Home to work
Tea (`5) and idli (`1)
at Amma Canteen
Sambhar & rice at
Amma Canteen
ccording to the recent Rangarajan panel re-
port on poverty, those spending more than
`47 per day in a city are not poor. ET Maga-
zine decided to conduct a simple experi-
ment: track an underprivileged persons
2 idli & 1 vada
Kengeri to Richmond
Road via bus (using a
monthly bus pass)
Home to work
Sambar & rice
From Kannagi
Nagar Kuppam
to Guindy by bus
Home to work
While the Marathas are often clubbed with Kun-
bis, an agrarian community, many say they are dif-
ferent. The Maratha-Kunbi cluster is said to account
for 32-34% of Maharashtras population, with Mar-
athas alone accounting for 25%. Given the close links
between the two communities, it has caused the
Marathas much consternation that Kunbis have res-
ervation, thanks to their inclusion in the OBC cate-
gory, and they do not. Marathas have said they are
no different from Kunbis, but that has been disputed
repeatedly by commissions set up by the central and
state governments over the past six decades.
The Maharashtra State Backward Class Commis-
sion and its predecessor have in the past 21 years
issued nine reports stating the Marathas do not
need reservation. The most recent of those came in
2008 when Justice RM Bapat headed the commis-
sion. The government rejected the report but has
not yet placed on record the reasons for its rejec-
tion. Moreover, three central government-appoint-
ed commissions have also rejected the inclusion of
the Marathas in OBC category. Other controversies
related to reservation in recent years include the
demand of Gujjars to be given scheduled tribes (ST)
status in Rajasthan, and the central governments
inclusion of Jats in the OBC bracket in nine states.
Crowded Reservation List
The Maharashtra government in March 2013 set up a
cabinet committee headed by industries minister
Narayan Rane, a Maratha himself, to look into reser-
vation for the community. A public interest litigation
(PIL) was filed in 2009 against the government deci-
sion to pursue ways to provide reservation to the
Marathas despite Bapats report. Following the June
26 decision, two other PILs were filed, opposing the
reservation. Maharashtra governor K Sankaranaray-
anan has reportedly signed off on the governments
ordinance to bring into effect the reservation and the
government stated on June 9 it would issue a notifi-
cation in this regard within a week.
Maharashtra already has 52% reservation, in-
cluding 19% for OBCs, so with the 16% reservation
for the Marathas and 5% for Muslims, the total will
go up to 73% higher than Tamil Nadus 69%
which may not pass legal muster. The ordinance is
unconstitutional. The government knows it wont
stand legal scrutiny. Its just for the election and if it
is stayed, which it will be, they can just tell people
they have done what they could, says Sangharaj
Rupawate, a lawyer representing Rajaram Kharat,
who filed the PIL in 2009.
Law in the Way
Jayant Patil, minister for rural development in Ma-
harashtra, says there is no link between the election
and the announcement. It has been in the works
for a while. There is economic backwardness in the
Maratha community which even some members of
the Bapat committee admitted, he adds. While
there is no data publicly available to substantiate
this claim, a study done by economists at the Uni-
versity of British Columbia in 2006-07 suggests
they own the most land in 59% of the villages in the
state. Individuals land holding may not be much
but if you look at the family or clan as a whole, it is
high, says Birmal. Marathas are also said to control
about 85% of the states sugar mills and nearly
three- fourths of its cooperative institutions.
While the Mandal Commission report in 1980
raised the total reservation from 22.5% to 49.5%, in-
cluding 27% for OBCs, it said total reservation should
not exceed 50% as per the Constitution, but Tamil
Nadu had already raised its total reservation to 69%.
While it has been challenged in the Supreme Court,
Tamil Nadu continues with its reservation quota
while Karnataka in 2010 was restrained by the apex
from raising its reservation to 73%. The reservation
for Muslims could also encounter legal opposition.
Whenever Congress-NCP is on the verge of defeat,
they play the caste and communal card, says
Tawde. It is as yet unclear what the governments
plan B is if the judiciary puts the reservation on hold
before the election; clearly the Congress-NCP alli-
ance needs more arrows in their quiver and sub-
stantial ones, to boot for a win.
tion. The BJP-led National Demo-
cratic Alliance won 42 of the 48
seats in Maharashtra, up from
just 20 in 2009, while the Con-
gress-led United Progressive Alli-
ances tally dropped to just six
from 25 five years ago.
Drift From Congress
While Marathas were traditionally back-
ers of the Congress, and later the NCP, some
started migrating toward the BJP-Shiv Sena camp
since the turn of the century. For instance, the share
of Maratha-Kunbi (a related caste) voters who voted
for the UPA dropped from 52% in 1999 to 39% in
2014. Nitin Birmal, an associate professor at Dr
Ambedkar Art & Commerce College, Pune, says the
reservation may help the ruling combine in the Mar-
athwada region and to an extent in western Maha-
rashtra, considered Pawars stronghold, but not in
the Vidarbha, Konkan and Mumbai-Thane regions.
BJP-Shiv Sena have a big chance of winning if they
are not fighting among themselves, adds Birmal.
Since its chief ministerial aspirant Gopinath
Mundes death last month, the BJP has been strug-
gling to decide whom to replace him with, while
facing increasing pressure from the Shiv Sena to
accept its chief Uddhav Thackeray as the alliances
CM candidate. The Congress and NCP have their
own share of troubles with leaders of both parties
demanding Prithviraj Chavans removal as CM be-
fore the election. Moreover, the Maharashtra
Navnirman Sena, headed by Uddhavs estranged
cousin Raj, who has opposed the Maratha reserva-
tion, is expected to queer the pitch with a better
performance than in 2009.
Farmers Come a Cropper
Kishor Tiwari, an agricultural activist from the Vid-
arbha region, says the farming community as a
whole, and not just Marathas, will vote against the
government for its inaction on farmers problems
including drought, loans and inadequate minimum
prices for their produce. Maharashtra registered a
decline of 1.4% in the agri-sector in 2012-13 and over
60,000 farmers have killed themselves since 1995.
Though they are highly indebted, only 2% of those
who committed suicide were Marathas, says Ti-
wari. While they may be better off than other farm-
ing communities, many agree that most small Mara-
tha farmers are in dire straits and there is an urge
among them to move away from agriculture and
villages for a better livelihood.
The demand for Maratha reservation, which has
gained momentum in the past decade, is an interest-
ing turn of events since the upper-caste Marathas
were strongly against reservation till the 1980s. Of-
ten dubbed a dominant caste, the Marathas trace
their lineage to a warrior-agriculturalist caste. The
community is best known to outsiders by the 17th
century king Shivaji Bhosale, who to date remains
the most evocative symbol of Maratha pride.
in focus
JULY 13-19, 2014
Even if the judiciary does not strike it
down before the assembly election,
Vidarbha, Konkanand
Reservation in Maharashtra
Prominent Maratha
Leaders in the State
and Nomadic
Sharad Pawar and Ajit Pawar (NCP)
Ashok Chavan
Prithviraj Chavan
Vinod Tawde
Narayan Rane
Marathas* Others
16 27
The Shiv Sena-BJP-led Mahayuti could
attack Congress-NCP on giving only
16% reservation for Marathas while
the communitys original demand
was 25% and a cabinet committee
earlier this year recommended 20%
is it really to live