Mumbai: In a potentially controversial move, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Monday mooted a proposal for giving 5 per cent reservations for Muslims in education, raising eyebrows in the ruling establishment.
Ajit Pawar, who heads the breakaway faction of Nationalist Congress Party, made the statement more than two months after his group joined the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party government of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis on July 1.
However, so far there has been no official response from the other two allies in the ruling alliance, especially since Fadnavis has always been vocal about not extending religion-based quotas that could eat into the OBC and Maratha reservations.
Sources in the NCP claim that Shinde’s stance on the ticklish issue could have repercussions in the next Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, with the NCP-AP eyeing the Muslim votes that may prove a crucial factor in several constituencies in the state.
Ajit Pawar had recently assured and reiterated that he would take up the Muslim quotas issue with the CM and Deputy CM soon to implement the decision as per the Bombay High Court orders and also consider a special package for the economically backward Muslims.
Incidentally, the Muslim quotas in education was given by the former Congress-NCP government in 2014, and was also among the promises of the erstwhile Maha Vikas Aghadi government, in which Ajit Pawar was the Deputy CM, before it was toppled in June 2022.