(Eds: Updating with BJP’s reaction, other details) Mumbai, Sep 16 (PTI) The BJP and Shiv Sena were today engaged in a slanging match over the Maratha reservation issue with the Uddhav Thackeray-led party accusing its senior ally of doing “timepass” and the latter dubbing its recalcitrant partner as “Songaade” (clowns) vis-a-vis the quota issue.
In a stinging editorial in its mouthpiece ‘Saamana’, the Sena termed a cabinet sub-committee, formed by the BJP-led Maharashtra government to look into the Maratha reservation issue, as a “timepass” and sought to know why justice had not been meted out to the community, despite several roadshows.
Mocking the Sena, which also took potshots at the BJP over the bullet train project, the city unit president of the BJP, Ashish Shelar, said those who could not maintain the roads of Mumbai should not bother about the bullet train.
On August 9, scores of members of the Maratha community staged their 58th and final “muk morcha” (silent protest) in the city, demanding reservation in government jobs and education.
The same day, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced in the Assembly that the government would extend the educational concessions for the OBCs to the Maratha community.
He had also said the government would form a cabinet sub-committee, which would review the implementation of various schemes for the community, and accordingly, a five- member sub-committee was announced subsequently.
In the editorial published today, ‘Saamana’ said, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe held a big roadshow in Ahmedabad. Such roadshows have their own benefits.
“However, several roadshows, morchas and protests held by the Maratha community yielded no results.” The Sena also said Fadnavis agreed to spend Rs 30,000 crore from the state’s coffers to realise Modi’s dream of a bullet train, but allegedly adopted the Congress’ policy of forming a cabinet sub-committee over the Maratha reservation issue to “kill time”.
It also sought to know from the government if there was any time limit for the sub-committee and what were its powers.
“It is being said that this committee will submit its report to the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission.
Also, it will hold discussions with Maratha organisations every three months. If talks take place every three months, how long will this committee’s timepass last?” it asked.
The sub-committee is headed by Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil and the other members are Diwakar Raote and Eknath Shinde of the Sena and Girish Mahajan and Sambhaji Patil Nilangekar of the BJP.
However, Shelar said the formation of the sub-committee was the “first step” by the BJP government to ensure that the Maratha reservation issue stood legal scrutiny.
“The government is working on the Maratha reservation issue to ensure that it cannot get struck down due to legal loopholes. Formation of the cabinet sub-committee was the first step towards doing that (sic),” he wrote on Twitter.
The BJP leader said it was “ironical” that the “Songaade” (literally meaning clowns), “who criticised the Maratha morchas, are now asking the government what is happening under the carpet”.
A cartoon alluding to the “muk” or silent morchas of the Marathas, published in ‘Saamana’ last year, had drawn flak from the community, the BJP and other political parties, besides senior leaders of the Sena.
“Remember how many elections you have lost in the recent past,” Shelar said in another tweet.
“Those who cannot maintain the quality of roads and nullahs of the city, should not unnecessarily bother about a bullet train,” the BJP leader wrote on the microblogging website, referring to the August 29 deluge which had paralysed Mumbai.
Sena, which is the ruling party in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), was blamed for the waterlogging and pothole-ridden roads, following the deluge.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.